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Cablegate: Fresh Momentum: Canadian Pm Harper Visits India

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 002401

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DEPT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL CA IN
SUBJECT: FRESH MOMENTUM: CANADIAN PM HARPER VISITS INDIA

1. (U) SUMMARY: Canadian PM Stephen Harper's November 15-18
visit to India was long on atmospherics but short on solid
deliverables. In addition to official meetings with PM
Singh, EAM Krishna and Sonia Gandhi, Harper had a highly
visible public program in Mumbai and touched base with the
Sikh community in Amritsar. The visit produced an agreement
to establish a study group on possibilities for a
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, an MOU on
energy issues, and a positive and optimistic Joint Statement.
END SUMMARY.

The Lighter Side of Harper's Visit: Culture and Business
--------------------------------------------- -----------
2. (U) Harper's schedule built on strong people-to-people
ties between India and Canada and highlighted the potential
for increased trade between the two countries. There have
been 11 ministerial visits to India since 2006. The Canadian
PM traveled from the APEC conference in Singapore directly to
Mumbai, where he held four roundtables with Indian investors
to discuss investment, infrastructure, education, and the
civil nuclear sector. Harper delivered a speech at Mumbai's
Trident Hotel to approximately 240 guests, most of whom were
Indian. Harper also found time in Mumbai to present
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar with a symbolic Olympic torch
(Kumar will be a torchbearer at the 2010 winter Olympics in
Vancouver), and to appear with Mrs. Harper on a popular
reality TV show (India's equivalent to "So You Think You Can
Dance?"). Harper was quoted in the Indian press as saying
"India...has frankly no closer cultural and human relations
with any other developed country than it does with Canada."

The Official Meetings
---------------------------
3. (U) In Delhi, PM Harper met with Prime Minister Singh,
President Patil, Vice President Ansari, and Congress Party
leader Sonia Gandhi. He received calls at his hotel from
Foreign Minister Krishna and opposition leader Advani. The
meeting with PM Singh included Foreign Minister Krishna,
Minister of Commerce Sharma, National Security Advisor
Narayanan, Special Envoy for Climate Change Shyam Saran,
Atomic Energy Commission chairman Kakodkar, and G-20
representative Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Canadian High
Commission Deputy Chief of Mission Jim Nichol told us the
leaders exchanged facts and perspectives on global and
regional issues, but focused primarily on the optimistic
outlook for the bilateral relationship.

Regional Issues
---------------
4. (U) Each side touched on their economic development
efforts in Afghanistan. Singh expressed concern whether
Karzai would be able to keep momentum on reform and
development, worrying that further destabilization in
Afghanistan could lead to regional instability. Harper
committed to working with India to fight international
terrorism and extended condolences for the Mumbai attack,
stressing the need for the perpetrators to be brought to
justice.

The Financial Crisis
--------------------
5. (U) Harper and Singh, both of whom are trained economists,
bonded over a discussion of the global economic recovery and
highlighted that Canada and India have weathered the crisis
well due to their financial and regulatory regimes. Canada
plans to co-host the June 2010 G-20 meeting with Korea: Singh
will attend. Both sides agreed on the importance of economic
stability and recovery.

Climate Change
--------------
6. (U) On climate change, DCM Nichol reported that there was
a "certain recognition" on both sides of the need for
positive outcomes in Copenhagen, but he was not optimistic
about significant results. At minimum, he said, the two

NEW DELHI 00002401 002 OF 002


countries expressed hope for a strong political statement.

The Deliverables: Some Disappointments
--------------------------------------
7. (U) The Prime Ministers launched a Joint Study Group to
examine possibilities for a Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (CEPA). The group will meet in December and is
to complete the study before Singh's June visit to Canada for
the G-20. Also inked was an MOU on Energy covering a wide
range of issues. A number of hoped-for bilateral agreements
were not achieved during this visit, DCM Nichol told us.
Canada had aimed to finalize the Foreign Investment Promotion
Agreement, the Bilateral Social Security Agreement, the MOU
on Cultural Understanding and the Civil Nuclear Agreement.
Nichol shared that India will launch "the year of India in
Canada" in 2011, and the cultural understanding MOU needs to
be finalized in order to assist in developing approaches to
the program.

Civil Nuclear Agreement
-----------------------
8. (U) Though a civil nuclear agreement was not reached
during the visit, Singh and Harper met on the sidelines of
the November 28 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
(CHOGM) in Port of Spain and announced an agreement that will
allow the countries to resume nuclear trade after a gap of 34
years (Note: Canada suspended nuclear trade with India in
1974 after India tested a nuclear device engineered with
misappropriated Canadian technology). Canadian Political and
Economic Counselor Julia Bentley told us that an inconclusive
round of negotiations was held on November 14 and 15 in
Mumbai ahead of Harper's official meetings in India. An
agreement was reached during a November 23 follow-up
negotiation in Toronto, but it was not announced immediately.
The agreement will still be subject to legal scrubs and
parliamentary reviews on both sides: Bentley told us she was
not sure the legal processes would be completed in time to
inaugurate the civil nuclear agreement during Singh's trip to
Canada for the G-20 meeting in June. She indicated, however,
that several other "less complicated" deliverables are on
track.

The Joint Statement
-------------------
9. (U) The tone of the joint statement was positive, with
commitments to strengthen the bilateral relationship in areas
including economics and trade, education, culture, sports,
and tourism and to increase bilateral trade from USD 5
billion to USD 15 billion within five years. Furthermore,
the statement noted the two government's agreement to
finalize negotiations on several bilateral agreements
including an Investment promotion and Protection Agreement,
the Social Security Agreement, and the Civil Nuclear
Cooperation Agreement (as announced at the CHOGM). Prime
Minister Singh told the press that India-Canada relations
have strengthened under Harper's administration and that his
visit added "fresh momentum" to the relationship. (Note:
full text of the joint statement and statement to the press
available at http://meaindia.nic.in).

10. (U) COMMENT: As the largest producer of uranium in the
world, Canada could be a key partner for uranium-hungry
India. The two countries have strong cultural ties to build
on, and a great deal of potential to expand their economic
relationship. We suspect that many of the hoped-for
deliverables, including the Civil-Nuclear Agreement, were not
ready for the visit simply because of capacity issues at the
Indian MEA which was preoccupied with preparations for PM
Singh's high-profile trip to the US at the same time that
Harper visited India. END COMMMENT.

ROEMER

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