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Canada cautious on inputs about Khalistani elements: High Commissioner

NEW DELHI: The topic Sikh radicals or pro-Khalistani elements does come up from time to time but the Sikh community living in Canada is by and large peaceful and Canadian security agencies take such inputs emanating from anywhere seriously, Canadian High Commissioner in India Nadir Patel said on Friday.  

In an interaction with members of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents (IAFAC) here, the Canadian High Commissioner said that both the countries had stepped up security and terror dialogue at the level of the National Security Advisors (NSAs). 

The High Commissioner said that Indian diaspora of nearly 13 lakhs was very strong and vibrant in Canada. Of these, five lakh are from Punjab and three lakh from Gujarat alone. He said that nearly one lakh Indian students were studying in various streams in Canada's universities and they could find employment in Canada after completing two full time years of study. 

The High Commissioner said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government was encouraging youngsters with new ideas and technologies and start ups with fast tracking their visa and immigration process. 

He said that Canada was a strong supporters of India for entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as reforms in the UN Security Council and India's membership to it. 

Prime Minister Trudeau's government had taken over nearly 18 months ago and relations with India are at present at an all time high in all fields, including trade, clean energy, investments, aviation, tourism and infrastructure, he said. Cooperation in non-traditional fields like fashion technology, design, films and communications also had a lot of potential, he added. India and Canada are already holding four strategic dialogues, he said while admitting that there were areas of “disagreement” as well but that has not affected the robust and thriving ties between the two countries.  

As Canada has embraced diversity, multi-cultural ethos, the country's cabinet is ``very young'' with 50 per cent women in it as well representation given to four Indian-origin Canadian nationals who are ministers. He said that Canadian Prime Minister is likely to visit India either later this year or early next year. Canadian Defence Minister is scheduled to visit India in another two weeks, he added. 

Mr. Patel said that Canada was keen to have more cooperation in defence sector and research. He said that nearly a thousand Canadian companies were doing business in India of which 400 companies have direct presence in India.  ``Very few people know that Delhi Metro coaches are from Canadian company Bombardier and the bulk of french fries are from McCain, another Canadian company. But this is only tip of the iceberg, there is tremendous potential to expand the bilateral trade,'' he said.

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