16/04/2015 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Canada, India Unveil Uranium Supply Deal, Bury Nuclear Discord

GEOFF ROBINS via Getty Images
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) acknowledge the crowd during a rally on Prime Minister Modi's first official visit to Canada, April 15, 2015 in Toronto. AFP PHOTO / GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

OTTAWA — The Canadian government unveiled a C$350 million ($280 million) deal to supply uranium fuel to India, formally ending a lengthy dispute that began after New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the Indian diaspora event held at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto as an 'unforgettable experience', thanking his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper for the hospitality accorded to him during his visit.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi attended a reception hosted by Prime Minister Harper before addressing the diaspora event at the Ricoh Coliseum. The Prime Minister also met Canadian Governor General David Johnston, before holding a tete-a-tete with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

Prime Minister Modi arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday, for the third and final leg of his three-nation, nine-day tour. Canada Defence Minister Jason Kenney, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, Indian Ambassador to Canada Vishnu Prakash, Canada Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Deepak Obhrai and Canadian MPs Patrick Brown, Royal Galipeau and Devinder Shory were present at the airport to welcome him.

Cameco Corp Deal

Canadian producer Cameco Corp will supply 7.1 million pounds (3.22 million kilos) of uranium concentrate to India over the next five years. The deal is Cameco's first with India, which the firm called the second fastest growing market for nuclear fuel. Shares in the uranium miner rose 5.8 percent in Toronto.

"Canada is providing uranium to India as a mark of its trust and confidence in India," Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a news conference during an official visit.

Canada banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.

The two countries started to put the dispute behind them with a cooperation deal in 2013 that let Canadian firms export controlled nuclear materials and equipment subject to safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"(That agreement) really allowed us to turn the page on what had been in our judgment an unnecessarily frosty relationship for far too long," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the news conference.

Modi has made nuclear power a key element of his clean energy strategy. India needs foreign nuclear technology and fuel to ramp up capacity by a planned 14 times from 4,560 megawatts over the next two decades.

The two prime ministers also said they wanted to boost bilateral trade, which currently sits at a modest C$6.3 billion a year, and revive stalled talks on a free trade agreement.

"It (trade) is not where we want it to be but it is growing," said Harper.

Modi arrived in Canada on April 14 for the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in 42 years.

Around 1.2 million Canadians - just under 4 percent of the population - have ties to India as either immigrants or their descendants. They form an important voting block in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

Canada's ruling Conservatives - facing a tough election in October 2015 - have tried hard to build ties with the Indian community and Harper will appear with Modi at public events in both Toronto and Vancouver.

Joint Industrial Research

Modi and Harper have also reaffirmed their commitment to joint industrial research and development projects through the International Science and Technology Partnership Program, endorsing the annual contribution of CAD one million by both countries.

In the joint statement released by the two leaders, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Harper appreciated the ongoing bilateral cooperation in science, technology and innovation and its role in improving the lives of their citizens. They noted several successful Indo-Canadian research and development projects and their benefits to the larger society.

The two leaders took particular note of the partnership between the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS) and the National Mission for Clean Ganga to find innovative technological solutions to clean the river Ganga; the 'Water for Health' collaboration between Indian's Department of Biotechnology and IC-IMPACTS; and the 'Safe and Sustainable Infrastructure' and 'Integrated Water-Management' initiatives with the Indian Department of Science and Technology.

They also agreed to support further joint projects on safe and sustainable infrastructure and integrated water management and public health.

Addressing the press, Prime Minister Modi later said that the agreement between the two countries on the procurement of uranium from Canada for India's civilian nuclear power plants launches a new era of bilateral cooperation.

Naya Utsah, Naye Kadam

In a joint statement, titled Naya Utsah, naye kadam' or New Vigour: New Steps', the two prime ministers welcomed the signing of an agreement between the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India and Cameco of Canada for long-term supply of uranium to India to meet its energy needs. They recognised that the agreement would impart a new significance to India-Canada Civil Nuclear Cooperation.

"We are here tonight to celebrate the special friendship that exists between India and Canada. It is a friendship we truly value. Our governments have set ambitious goals to renew and strengthen; we want to trade more with India, to invest more in India, to work more with India, to strengthen international security to make it easier for people to travel with India, and of course Prime Minister Modi, we are delighted that Canadians will now find it easier to visit India with your government's decision to issue visas on arrival," Prime Minister Harper said, while addressing an Indian diaspora event at the Ricoh Coliseum.

Prime Minister Harper also applauded the Indian community in Canada, noting that it is one of the most successful diasporas in the world.

"There are more men and women born in India and serving in Canada's Parliament than any time in our history. Canada is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in the world... The relationship between Canada and India is important because of trade and investment but it is strong because of people and families," he said.

"The Indian community has a long and rich history in Canada. The first immigrants arrived in Canada over a century ago through ambition, ingenuity, hard work, and the Indo-Canadian community has grown in size and prominence: in fact, Canada is home to one of the largest and more successful Indian diasporas on earth," he added.

Prime Minister Harper also said that he takes pride in the fact that Canada was one of the first countries to extend the hand of friendship to Prime Minister Modi.

"Under your [Prime Minister Modi's] leadership, Canadians feel closer to India than ever before. Canadians see in India a growing force for good in Asia and the world a force for democracy, tolerance and pluralism; a force for our mutual security that can be a model for all peoples to inspire to better things," he said.

"When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, we had extended our hand of friendship long before others. His visit to Canada is historic: the first stand-alone bilateral visit in over 40 decades. He is striving to make India a 'vishwa guru'," he added.

Modi and his Canadian counterpart have also agreed to encourage visits by parliamentary delegations of both nations, recognising the role of people-to-people ties in the relationship between New Delhi and Ottawa.

(With inputs from ANI, IANS and Reuters)

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