Amid diplomatic stand-off, Canada’s PM to take part in virtual G20 leaders’ summit hosted by India today

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Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will participate in the virtual G20 leaders’ summit being hosted by India on Wednesday.

Trudeau’s participation was also confirmed by the Canadian prime minister’s office (PMO) as it features on his itinerary for November 22.

A senior Indian official also confirmed that Trudeau will be part of the event which is being hosted and chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This will be the first time in over two months that any Canadian Cabinet minister, let alone the PM, will take part in an Indian or India-led event.

The virtual event follows the in-person leaders’ summit in New Delhi on September 9 and 10. It is expected to deliberate on the Delhi Declaration that was adopted at the summit and will be the final meeting under India’s presidency of the G20 which is till the end of this month.

Problems between Canada and India became apparent at the bilateral meeting between Modi and Trudeau in New Delhi, which was far from amicable. Trudeau, at the time, “raised the importance of respecting the rule of law, democratic principles, and national sovereignty”, according to a readout from the Canadian PMO.

That was a precursor to Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Khalistani figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.

Those accusations cratered relations between the two countries as each expelled a diplomat each in the immediate aftermath. India also indefinitely suspended issuing visas to Canadian nationals, though issuance in four categories was resumed in October.

India also sought parity in diplomatic presence leading to 41 Canadian diplomats leaving the country, in what Canada described as a “mass expulsion”.

Meanwhile, an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) between India and Canada appears to be in limbo as Canada has said Ottawa’s focus in the relationship was on securing New Delhi’s cooperation in the investigation into Nijjar’s killing.