The latest diplomatic row between India and Canada will not impact bilateral military engagement and the Canadian Army will take part in the conclave of the Indo-Pacific army chiefs in Delhi next week, a senior Indian Army official said on Wednesday.
The Indian Army is hosting the conclave on September 26 and 27 with an aim to evolve a common strategy to ensure peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific against the backdrop of growing global concerns over China's increasing military muscle-flexing in the region.
The diplomatic ties between India and Canada came under further strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
India on Tuesday rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
"It doesn't impact us. The Canadian Army (vice) Chief is coming in here, his delegation is coming here," said Major General Abhinaya Rai, the Additional Director General of Strategic Planning at the Army headquarters.
"Like when we look at our relationship with some of our neighbours...where we may have had a standoff but we continue to engage them at all levels, be it the military level and at the diplomatic level. And I am referring directly to China here," he said.
Major General Rai suggested that India's diplomatic and military engagement with Canada would not be impacted.
A Canadian military official also asserted that the diplomatic row will not impact the defence engagement between India and Canada.
Fifteen Army chiefs and delegations from 22 countries will attend the event to be held in Delhi on September 26 and 27, officials said. The US Army is co-hosting the conference.
The Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs' Conclave (IPACC) will deliberate on the role of military diplomacy in mitigating various crises, ways to enhance collaboration among the armed forces of the region and boosting interoperability.
Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen M V Suchindra Kumar said the event will provide a unique opportunity to build common perspectives towards a shared vision and that it will help strengthen friendships through the formidable and indelible "soldierly bond".
The IPACC, instituted as a biennial event in 1999, is attended by Army chiefs of countries of the Indo-Pacific region, to discuss issues of mutual interest.
"The current edition of this conclave is very special, as it will witness participation of full spectrum of military ranks, from Army chiefs to non-commissioned Officers from 22 nationalities, and their spouses," Lt Gen Kumar told reporters.
"Fifteen Army chiefs and delegations from 22 countries will attend this event in Delhi. I take this opportunity to thank the US Army, especially US Army Pacific, who are our co-hosts," he said.
The Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS), held annually, is one of the largest conferences for the land forces in the region which is organised annually by US Army Pacific, along with a co-host country.