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Trudeau says Canada 'not looking to escalate' diplomatic row with India

Trudeau acknowledged that Canada is going through an "extremely challenging time" with India and said that he would attempt to engage "responsibly and constructively" with New Delhi on the matter.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ottawa (Canada) Updated on: October 04, 2023 6:16 IST
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau with his Indian counterpart
Image Source : AP Canadian PM Justin Trudeau with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi

India-Canada rowAmid a diplomatic standoff between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday that he is "not looking to escalate" the tensions with New Delhi and wants to have constructive relations.

"We're not looking to escalate, as I've said, we're going to be doing the work that matters in continuing to have constructive relations with India through this extremely difficult time," CBC News quoted Trudeau as saying. The Canadian PM also acknowledged that Ottawa was going through an "extremely challenging time" with New Delhi.

He further said that the dispute between both countries has made it "important for us to have diplomats on the ground working with the Indian government there to support Canadians and Canadian families." Trudeau asserted that his government was taking the matter extremely seriously and would attempt to engage "responsibly and constructively" with India.

Tensions flared between India and Canada last month following Trudeau's allegations of "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. India angrily rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated".

Nijjar, a designated terrorist in India, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen in British Columbia province on June 18. Since Trudeau's allegations, India has suspended visa services for Canadians and asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic staff in the country, arguing for parity in strength and cautioning against interference in internal matters.

India also repeatedly asked Canada to come down hard on terrorists and anti-India elements operating from its soil, saying that the country has become a "safe haven" for such extremist activity. 

India wants to see proof: Jaishankar to Trudeau

While speaking at Hudson University earlier last week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar underscored that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had initially levelled allegations privately and then publically from the House of Commons and added India too replied to the allegations in the same manner.

"If he (PM Trudeau) had, or his government had anything relevant and specific they would like us to look into, we were open to looking at it. Now, that's where that conversation is at this point in time," stressed Jaishankar.

Jaishankar raises concerns over threats posed by Khalistani terrorists

Further, he opened up about the visa suspension during the conversation where he stressed that Ottawa has become a hub for organised crime from India and added this has now mixed with human trafficking, secessionism, violence and terrorism. 

Jaishankar further underscored that Canada has allowed extremists who were involved in anti-India activities. Notably, his comments came in the backdrop of recent death threats given by Khalistani terrorists to Indian diplomats in Ottawa.

"For us, it has certainly been a country where, organized crime from India, mixed with trafficking in people, mixed with secessionism, violence, terrorism. It's a very toxic combination of issues and people, who have found operating space there... Today, I'm actually in a situation where my diplomats are unsafe going to the embassy, or to the consulate in Canada. They are publicly intimidated. And that has actually compelled me to temporarily suspend even visa operations in Canada," he said.

(with PTI inputs)

ALSO READ | Nijjar killing row: Urged India to cooperate with Canada in its probe into Khalistani terrorist death, says US

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