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World

Rising tension: India skips Canada-led COVID-19 meeting over Trudeau's remarks

  • The virtual meeting, which was convened by the Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne on December 7, was held to formulate a common strategy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Modi-led Indian government is upset with Trudeau’s comments over farmers' protest and has decided to show its displeasure by refusing to attend the meeting
08 Dec 2020

(Karachi) India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar did not participate in the meeting of the Canada-led group of foreign ministers amid rising tension between the two nations over remarks made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ongoing farmers' protest in India, local media reported.

The virtual meeting, which was convened by the Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne on December 7, was held to formulate a common strategy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reportedly, Modi-led Indian government is upset with Trudeau’s comments and has decided to show its displeasure by refusing to attend the meeting.

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the farmers' protest in India against Naredra Modi's new farm laws is a concerning situation and Canada will always defend the rights of peaceful protesters.

Trudeau said, "I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming from India about the protest by farmers."

He added, "The situation is concerning. We are all very worried about family and friends. We know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters."

He stated that Canada believes in the process of dialogue. "We’ve reached out through multiple means to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together.”

On November 30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi resisted calls for the repeal of farm reforms that have ignited the biggest protests by farmers in years around New Delhi.

Thousands of people from the big farming state of Punjab were camped out on the outskirts of Delhi for a fifth day demanding that they be allowed to stage protests in the city centre against the new laws that open up India’s tightly regulated farm produce market.

Farmers who could earlier sell grains and other products only at neighbouring government-regulated wholesale markets can now sell them across the country, including to big food processing companies and retailers such as WallMart.

But farm groups and opposition parties say the government will eventually abolish the wholesale markets, where growers were assured of a minimum support price for staples like wheat and rice, leaving small farmers at the mercy of corporate agri-businesses.