There is room for diplomacy between India and Canada, says External Affairs Minister Jaishankar
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that there is room for diplomacy between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar and noted that two sides need to balance over the matter. His comment came during a conversation at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.
He said, “There are many countries where there is freedom of speech and expression, including India, but that cannot be a licence to advocate violence and intimidation or to propagate separatism and extremism. The problem faced by India is that activities such as violence and intimidation have been justified in the name of freedom, which have also become a licence, to propagate separatism and extremism.
On India Canada row, Jaishankar said, “I feel that there is room for diplomacy and I know that my counterpart in Canada has also expressed the same position and we have been in touch. My hope certainly would be that we find a way, sovereignty and sensitivity cannot be a one-way street."
“India is willing to talk to Canada about its legitimate concerns”, he said. “But, it cannot be that a conversation is completely dismissive of my interests and my sensitivities, and I think we need balance,” he added. India-Canada ties have been at an all-time low after Canadian PM Trudeau accused the Indian govt agents of involvement in the killing of Najjar Singh, who was reportedly gunned down in the parking lot of a Gurdwara in the Canadian town of Surrey.
Both sides expelled a senior diplomat each and India subsequently suspended visa services for Canadian citizens. New Delhi also sought parity in mutual diplomatic presence, which resulted in Canada withdrawing 41 diplomats and their family members from India. On the question of India’s decision to abstain during a UN General Assembly vote on the Israel-Hamas conflict, Jaishankar reiterated India’s stance of opposing all forms of terrorism, including the Hamas attacks of October 7.
He further pointed out that India also recognises that international humanitarian law must be observed in the context of any action being taken by Israel in the Gaza Strip. “India also continues to back a two-state solution whereby an independent, viable Palestinian state is arrived at through direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis”, he added.
In response to a question, of whether the conflict would impact the India Middle East Europe Economic Corridor, Jaishankar said, “There is enormous interest in Europe and West Asia in the IMEC to ensure a more efficient and seamless trade with India, though unanticipated problems of a serious nature can happen”.