Briefing by Foreign Secretary and Secretary (West) on PM’s visit to Toronto
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao: The Fourth G20 Summit is being held on June 26th and 27th 2007 in Toronto, Canada. This is the fourth Summit of the international grouping within a span of 20 months, starting with the Washington Summit in November of 2008, the London Summit in April 2009, and the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009. We believe this is indicative of the dynamism and importance of this grouping which since Pittsburgh has been designated as the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
As the host, the Prime Minister of Canada will preside over this Summit. Leaders of the G20 member countries are expected to attend. Canada has also invited Spain, Netherlands, Malawi (as Chair of the African Union), Ethiopia (which holds the Chair of NEPAD), and Vietnam (as the Chair country of ASEAN), to the Summit. In addition, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the World Bank, the Managing Director of the IMF, the Director-General of the WTO, heads of the ILO, the Financial Stability Board, etc., are likely to be present.
Our Prime Minister will participate in the G20 Toronto Summit. PM’s delegation will include the Deputy-Chairman of the Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is the G20 Sherpa from India. In addition, there will be other senior officials attending as part of Prime Minister’s delegation including the National Security Advisor.
Prime Minister will arrive in Toronto on June 26th and has a very busy schedule. The G20 Summit starts with an Official Welcome and Reception followed by Working Dinner by the Prime Minister of Canada and the day’s programme concludes with a cultural event. On June 27, the programme includes the Summit Opening Plenary followed by other plenary sessions, a G20 Family Photograph, a leaders’ working lunch, and finally the concluding Final Plenary in the afternoon.
After the Summit, Prime Minister will attend to the bilateral component of his visit to Canada on which my colleague Mr. Vivek Katju will brief you immediately following my opening statement.
Prime Minister will interact with leaders of participating countries in the G20 Summit on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. Some bilateral meetings are envisaged on the sidelines of the Summit and we will keep you informed of them.
The host country Canada is organizing some side events in conjunction with the G20 Summit. There is firstly a G20 Business Summit, or B20, as it has been called, which will be held on June 25th and 26th 2010, to which each country has been invited to send two business persons. India will be represented at the B20 by CII and FICCI and it is event is being organised at the invitation of the Canadian Finance Minister.
The other event is the G20 Youth Summit called ‘MY Summit’ for which each country will be sending up to seven persons. India will be represented by a youth group selected by our Department of Youth Affairs. Select participants from the Youth Summit will also interact briefly with the G20 leaders on June 27 afternoon.
The forthcoming Toronto Summit’s theme is, “Recovery and New Beginnings”. The Summit’s main focus will be on implementation of the previous Summit decisions. Therefore, the leaders are expected to take stock of where we are and to chart the future direction. They can be expected to review the current status of the global economic recovery, as well as, the progress of implementation regarding the past G20 Summit decisions.
In the light of the above, the leaders will decide on the mandate and direction of the G20’s future course of action. Without trying to prejudge the deliberations of the Summit, broadly speaking some of the areas the leaders can be expected to address are: global recovery, its prospects and challenges; the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth; international financial institutions (IFI) reform; financial regulatory reform; protectionism; and looking ahead to Seoul the venue of the Fifth G20 Summit in November 2010.
As in the past, a Toronto Summit Declaration or Communique is expected to be issued, although I would refrain from speculating on the outcome of the Summit or the contents of the Communique. I am sure all of you are aware of the background of the G20, the previous G20 Summits, the discussions that have taken place at the previous Summits. So, I am not going to go into those details. But what the G20 has sought to focus on in its previous Summit meetings and the meetings of the Finance Ministers is to evolve a common understanding on the causes of the global financial and economic crisis, a reaffirmation of commitment to financial and economic stability and growth, to evolve common principles for reforming the financial markets, and launching of the national plans for information.
As you know, the Pittsburgh Summit, which is the last Summit held before the Toronto Summit, had designated the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation and had noted the success achieved in tackling the international financial and economic crisis by prompt and effective measures. It had mandated a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the 21st century through sound macro-economic policies; emphasised the need for sustained strong policy responses to growth until a durable recovery was secured; and to avoid any premature withdrawal of stimulus while preparing for coordinated exit strategies. It had called for implementing regulatory measures governing banks, financial institutions, capital markets, compensation standards, risk taking, over- the- counter (OTC) derivatives, credit rating agencies, hedge funds, non-cooperative jurisdictions, as well as, reiterated the fight against protectionism and all its forms. It was also decided to hold a Summit at Toronto and thereafter at Seoul, and to have Annual Summits thereafter starting with France in 2011.
As you also know, the G20 comprises the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, UK and the United States.
Secretary (West) Vivek Katju: Thank you, Vishnu. The Prime Minister’s visit to Canada for the G-20 Summit provides an opportunity for a substantive bilateral engagement between the Prime Minister and his Canadian counterpart, Mr. Stephen Harper. The interaction between the two Prime Ministers is scheduled for the evening of June 27 in Toronto.
India and Canada share a commitment to democratic and constitutional governance and to the values which are associated with such governance: the rule of law, the protection and promotion of civil liberties and personal freedom, inclusive growth and pluralism. These form a firm foundation for the bilateral relationship. The two countries have been engaged, over the past few years, in enhancing the substance of the bilateral relationship in areas that can directly contribute to the welfare of the people. Thus, there has been a focus on economic and commercial cooperation and cooperation in the field of science, technology, innovation, education, health and agriculture among others. The visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to India in November, 2009 provided an opportunity to the two countries to impart momentum to their cooperation in these areas. Prime Minister’s discussions with Prime Minister Harper in Toronto will give another impetus to our cooperation.
A number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding are under discussion and negotiations with the Canadian side. Some of these have made substantial progress and if concluded before the visit in all respects, may be signed during the visit. These are the Agreement for Cooperation in Civil Nuclear Energy, an MOU for Cooperation in Mining, an MOU for Cooperation in Higher Education, an MOU for Cooperation in Culture and a Social Security Agreement.
Question: My question is with regard to the likely stance that India is going to take on the proposal of a financial transaction tax. This has been spoken about in the past. What sort of stance could India take at the G20 Summit?
Nirupama Rao: The Finance Secretary has addressed this in a recent interview. This is really a question within the ambit of the Finance Ministry. I think suffice it to say that our banking sector is extremely healthy. While we have spoken in the G20 context about the importance of financial regulations, on the issue of the bank tax I think as far as India is concerned, the health of our banking sector speaks for itself.
Question: Madam, as Mr. Katju just pointed out, one of the agreements that are likely to be signed between India and Canada is the one on civil nuclear energy. Last week you began negotiations with South Korea. This week you are going to do something with Canada. How do you look at this expansion of India’s nuclear energy portfolio?
Nirupama Rao: Positively. I think the universe has opened up for India as far as cooperation in nuclear energy is concerned. And as far as Canada is concerned, Vivek will answer your question.
Question: This is a supplement. In 1974 when India conducted its first nuclear test, Canada sort of went back on the agreement that it had with India. How do you see this now?
Vivek Katju: We do not look back: we look to the future. Well, the agreement under consideration is on cooperation in civil nuclear energy. This covers the areas of research, of development of nuclear energy applications in the field of agriculture, healthcare industry and environment, in cooperation in the field of nuclear waste management, nuclear safety, radiation safety, and environmental protection, etc. It covers a large ambit in the area of peaceful nuclear issues.
Question: This question is for Secretary (West). As you know, the Canadian Government has denied visas to a large number of senior Government officials from India. While they have apologized, even after the apology no visas have been granted. Is the Prime Minister going to take that up in the bilateral meeting? And the issue of the pro-Khalistan elements and their activities in Canada even now?
Vivek Katju: We are cognizant of the activities of what you term as pro-Khalistani elements. We have drawn the attention of our Canadian interlocutors to such activities, and the fact that they are undesirable and do not contribute to the relationship. As far as the visas issue is concerned, we have taken up this matter. As you have rightly recalled, the Canadian authorities regretted the letter that has been issued by their officials. And the External Affairs Minister thereafter said that the matter is closed.
Question: You have mentioned that we are going to have talks regarding cooperation in higher education, mining and agriculture. Why are we not going to tackle the important issue of terrorism which the whole world is facing today?
Vivek Katju: India and Canada are cooperating in the field of counter-terrorism. There is a regular structured dialogue between the two countries and the discussions are held on a periodic basis. There is also continuing cooperation between the two sides in this regard.
Question: Just a clarification on the civil nuclear energy cooperation. Will this agreement pave way for Canadian nuclear companies setting up nuclear reactors in India or supplying nuclear fuel to India? Also, since Canada is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, will the Prime Minister raise the issue of Sino-Pakistan nuclear cooperation?
Vivek Katju: As far as the Sino-Pakistan nuclear cooperation issue is concerned I think Foreign Secretary may like to say something. To answer the earlier part of your question, yes I think the agreement does cover the supplies of uranium and natural resources. As far as cooperation is concerned, I think that would be decided by the concerned authorities here which is the Department of Atomic Energy.
Nirupama Rao: I had anticipated that you would ask this question. As you are aware, we have been following reports about the supply of two additional nuclear power reactors by China to Pakistan. Now there are reports that all of us have seen, which mention also the issue of the supply of these reactors in the context of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines. As you know, India is not a member of the NSG. But we are monitoring the debate and the developments in this regard as they relate to this subject of supply of nuclear reactors by China to Pakistan.
Question: In view of the recent oil leak in the Gulf, is there going to be any discussion with Canada, apart from the nuclear energy, on cooperation in non-conventional energy sources like solar energy, for example?
Vivek Katju: We have a bilateral Energy Panel and there was a meeting of the Energy Panel a few weeks ago in Canada. Within the ambit of this panel are all areas of energy including the areas that you have mentioned such as solar energy and other non-conventional energy. There are also discussions which are taking place on matters relating to energy efficiency.
Question: There was a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) that was being discussed. Has there been some progress on that? Is it likely to be signed or is there still some area to be covered?
Vivek Katju: During the visit of Prime Minister of Canada a Joint Study Group was set up to look into this matter that you have mentioned, a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Partnership Agreement. The officials who are responsible for the Joint Study Group have met and they submitted their report. And these are being studied by the two countries.
Question: What would India’s stance be vis-à-vis the Yuan and its role in re-balancing the world economy, especially considering that the US is pressing for the Yuan to be revalued because that would reduce the deficits on one side and these excess of surpluses on the other side. What would India’s stance be?
Nirupama Rao: Here again I will draw reference to what the Finance Secretary has also said on this issue, I think it was yesterday, that we will wait and we will watch the impact of China’s move to de-peg the Yuan. We have to wait and watch and see what the impact will be on the economy of the region. China is, of course, an important trading partner of India. So, we would carefully assess the impact of these recent developments.
Question: The Indian Air Force has sought permission to pull out its helicopters from the UN Missions in Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. MEA being the nodal agency, has the MEA taken a decision on that? Has it written the UN on this issue?
Nirupama Rao: Yes, the Ministry of Defence has raised the issue with us. We are in touch with our Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. We are working with the Ministry of Defence on the one hand here in New Delhi and also with the UN authorities to organise a phased withdrawal.
Question: A few weeks back the Canadian Parliament accepted a motion to declare the 1984 Sikh riots as genocide. What is India’s reaction to this? On Kanishka also, what are we doing about it?
Vivek Katju: We are aware of this petition. We are also aware that the leader of the party to which the Member of the Canadian Parliament belongs, has disassociated himself from it. It is, of course, preposterous to make any such allegation. And, as far as the Kanishka matter is concerned, yes we have seen the report; we are studying its findings. We do note that the findings include the fact that extremism which led to this terrible tragedy, the terrorism that led to it, was note getting proper attention, both prior to the tragedy and later. That I think is part of the findings.
Question: Madam, on the issue of extradition for Warren Anderson, you said earlier that you would wait for the GoM’s recommendations. Now since the GoM has signalled that fresh attempts would be made at his extradition, during the course of any of your bilateral meetings in this Summit would you be raising the issue? Or how soon would MEA set the ball rolling?
Nirupama Rao: The reconstituted Group of Ministers on the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster has submitted its report in a sealed cover yesterday to the Prime Minister, as stated by the Group of Ministers Chairman, Shri P. Chidambaram, our Home Minister, to the media yesterday. The Union Cabinet is expected to meet shortly to examine this report. We will await the decision of the Cabinet in this regard.
Question: Madam, you are going to Pakistan tomorrow. India and Pakistan have exchanged 19 dossiers so far after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks but the investigations there seem to be tardy. How hopeful are you that with the visit of the Home Minister things will move forward? Do you think that it is time for Pakistan to take some credible action to actually prosecute the 26/11 perpetrators?
Nirupama Rao: We have always emphasised the need for credible action on the part of Pakistan, in regard to the evidence that we have provided on the Mumbai terror attacks, the additional information that has been provided over the last few months. We have underlined the need for Pakistan to take this evidence seriously, to take it onboard and to take substantive action in response to what we have conveyed to them. Obviously, this issue will form a part of our discussions with the Pakistan Government during the forthcoming visit. I will be meeting with my Pakistani counterpart Mr. Salman Bashir in Islamabad day after tomorrow. Also, our Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram, who is going to Islamabad for the SAARC Interior Ministers meeting, will have a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Mr. Rehman Malik. Obviously, our core concerns about this issue will be conveyed and will be discussed.
As far as the firing, it is extremely unfortunate. Over the last few months we have pointed and we have conveyed to Pakistan our concerns about the rise in infiltration, about the ceasefire violations, and the fact that such incidents which have been provoked for no reason at all do not contribute to a positive atmosphere between India and Pakistan.
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