New Delhi: Marking a milestone in transforming bilateral ties, India and Canada on Tuesday announced the conclusion of an agreement to implement their civil nuclear deal that will allow Canadian companies to export uranium and atomic reactors to New Delhi after a gap of 36 years.

The two countries also signed a social security agreement and two more pacts in areas of IT and defence technologies. They unveiled a host of new initiatives, including launching a foreign ministers-level strategic dialogue and enhanced counter-terror cooperation, to scale up their partnership and decided to conclude their negotiations for a comprehensive economic cooperation pact by next year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, who is here on a six-day visit, to accelerate ties across diverse sectors, including energy, trade and investment, agriculture and defence.

In a major step that removed the sole obstacle in accelerating bilateral ties, the two sides concluded an agreement on implementing their 2010 nuclear deal, reversing a 36-year-old ban when Canada froze its uranium supplies to Indian reactors in 1976, two years after India conducted nuclear tests in 1974."Prime Minister Harper's visit is yet another milestone in our bilateral relations," said Manmohan Singh after the talks.

The two prime ministers "welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on Appropriate Arrangement and looked forward to its early entry into effect, as well as to the inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee created under the agreement," said a joint statement after the talks."They also recognised that Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier to India's nuclear power programme," said the statement.

"We also welcomed the recent progress made towards concluding the modalities for the effective operationalisation of the agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation that we had signed in 2010," said Manmohan Singh.

India and Canada completed talks on an administrative agreement that will enable Canadian companies such as Cameco Corp. (CCJ) to sell nuclear materials, equipment and technology to India, said a statement from Harper's office. Harper stressed that selling uranium to India will be an important economic opportunity for Canadian companies.

"Being able to resolve these issues and move forward is, we believe, a really important economic opportunity for an important Canadian industry, part of the energy industry, that should pay dividends in terms of jobs and growth for Canadians down the road," he said."It is expected to generate millions of dollars in new business contacts between our countries and to create high-quality new jobs here at home," said Harper.

The nuclear pact will allow Canadian firms to export and import controlled nuclear materials, equipment and technology to and from India to facilities under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the statement from Harper's office.

Harper, however, set no timeline for concluding a safeguards agreement to implement the nuclear deal the two countries signed in 2010. Amid reports of a spurt in activities of "Khalistani" extremists in Canada, Harper assured India that his government will take appropriate action within the Canadian national law, said informed sources. "We have similar concerns in combating terrorism, extremism and radicalism.

The prime minister and I agreed to deepen our counter-terrorism cooperation," said Manmohan Singh. Imparting a fresh momentum to bilateral ties, the two sides decided to scale up bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015 and reaffirmed their resolve to conclude negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by the end of 2013.

Energy cooperation is also poised for a fresh momentum as the two countries decided to step up joint efforts to develop capacities to maximise the utilisation of energy resources ranging from oil and gas to new hydrocarbon resources such as oil sands, shale gas and other sources of energy including renewable.


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