NEW DELHI – The Prime Minister of Canada met with his Indian counterpart on Friday, concluding a controversial one-week trip to the subcontinent, including a slip by the Canadian embassy, who invited a Sikh separatist to a dinner-reception.
The two countries signed six agreements covering information technology, energy, sports, intellectual property, higher education, and science and innovation during the visit, Justin Trudeau and Narendra Modi announced in a joint press conference in New Delhi.
Bilateral investments worth around $800 million were also inked during Trudeau’s one week visit, where he was accompanied by his wife and three children.
The Canadian prime minister, who had once joked that there are more Sikhs in his cabinet than in the one in India, underlined in his speech that Canada is home to more than 1.3 million people of Indian origin.
In 2017, Canada had accepted 40,000 emigrants and 125,000 students from India.
The Canadian prime minister – who also visited other Indian cities such as Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located) and Mumbai (home to the Indian film industry Bollywood) – said India and Canada are united through shared values such as respect for democratic tradition, pluralism and diversity.
Modi, too, underlined these shared values in his speech.
The Canadian delegation, which included Sikh Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan – who is of Indian origin – is scheduled to leave India on Saturday.
Friday’s agenda for Trudeau had began with a military guard of honor in Raisina Hill (where the presidential palace is located), where Modi had received him with a hug and laughed and joked with his children.
The Indian media interpreted the gesture as an attempt to play down the gaffe – for which Trudeau had apologized – on Thursday when it was discovered that the Canadian embassy in New Delhi had invited Sikh separatist Jaspal Atwal to a dinner-reception with Trudeau.
Atwal, who holds a Canadian passport, was allegedly involved in 1986 in an attempt to assassinate a minister from the northwestern Indian state of Punjab.
Punjab, home to Sikhs in India, had witnessed the separatist Khalistan movement by radical Sikhs between 1981 and 1995, during which around 25,000 people were killed.
There are around 20 million Sikhs in India, and a large diaspora of another five million.