At the 13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs' Conference (IPACC) in New Delhi, Canada's Deputy Army Chief Major General Peter Scott said that the ongoing diplomatic row between Ottawa and New Delhi over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar will have 'no impact' on the presence of Canadian Army contingents here.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Scott said that the Canadian Army is ready to build relationships from "Army to Army" and that the recent tensions should be left for the governments to deal with.
"I am fully aware of, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's statement. The government's stance and the government’s request for India to participate in, and cooperate in the investigation. But, really, that has no impact on us here at the Indo-Pacific conference. We're really here to build relationships from army to army, and we'll let our governments deal with that issue, themselves," he said.
He further said that Canada is looking forward to participate in training exercises with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. "We are very grateful to be here as part of the IPACC 2023... We're very happy to be here and very gracious for India to be hosting," added Maj Gen Scott.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, said that America cares deeply about its relations with both India and Canada. "And I think that all of us need to make sure that we can come together as countries that take seriously sovereignty, take seriously security, and take seriously the potential of our relationship," he said.
About the IPACC event
The Indian and the US Army are co-hosting the 13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference, the 47th annual Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar (IPAMS), the 9th Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum (SELF) from September 25 to 27. Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande and Chiefs of Armies and delegates from at least 35 countries are present on the occasion.
The conference will provide an opportunity for Army Chiefs and senior-level leaders from land forces, primarily of the Indo-Pacific region, to exchange ideas and views on security and contemporary issues, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The core effort of the forum will be to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through mutual understanding, dialogue and friendship amongst the littoral partners.
"The challenges we face transcend across borders, and our response to them must factor this. The Indo-Pacific region is not merely a collection of nations - it is a web of interdependencies. We are bound by geography, and our destinies are intertwined. The security and prosperity of one nation is intrinsically linked to the security and prosperity of its neighbours, and much beyond," said General Pande on the occasion.
In his inaugural address here, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh emphasised that the Indo-Pacific is a fully-fledged geo-strategic construct and called for concerted efforts to deal with the complexities of the region to ensure a future of prosperity, security and inclusivity.
He also reiterated India’s stand for a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific Region in the pursuit of shared security and prosperity. The Defence Minister further defined ‘Neighbourhood First’ as the cornerstone of India’s culture since time immemorial. India’s approach to the region is defined by its ‘Act East Policy'.
US Army chief General Randy George said that the conference allows partnering countries to deepen "unity and collective commitment" between each other. Garcetti also said that the event underscores the close cooperation between India and the US and "integration of all nations" for a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Tensions between India and Canada reached a boiling point after Trudeau alleged India's role in the fatal shooting of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep S Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). Nijar, a designated terrorist in India, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.
India angrily rejected the Canadian PM's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to a similar move by Ottawa. India also temporarily suspended visa services for Canadian nationals in view of "security threats" and called for a reduction of Canadian diplomats in New Delhi.
India also advised all its nationals in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes. The diplomatic standoff between both countries has laid uncertainties over trade relations, as India and Canada recorded a burgeoning bilateral trade for the past few years.
(with inputs from ANI)