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‘We don’t want a fight with India over Nijjar killing’, says Canada’s Trudeau

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‘We don't want a fight with India over Nijjar killing’, says Canada's Trudeau

Trudeau announced Sept. 18 that Canadian intelligence agencies were pursuing credible allegations linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia, upending diplomatic ties between the two nations.

FP Staff December 20, 2023 20:09:49 IST ‘We don't want a fight with India over Nijjar killing’, says Canada's Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. File photo- Reuters

In a sudden shift in Ottawa’s tone with New Delhi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he does not want a fight right now over the issue of the Nijjar killing. Instead, he expressed his willingness to collaborate with India in advancing the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Trudeau said “We don’t want to be in a situation of fighting with India right now over this. We want to be working on that trade deal. We want to be advancing the Indo-Pacific strategy,” Trudeau told the CBC.

“But it is foundational for Canada to stand up for people’s rights, for people’s safety, and for the rule of law. And that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

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However, Trudeau also said that he senses a change in India’s tone with Ottawa after the United States warned New Delhi about its involvement in a thwarted plot to kill a Sikh separatist leader on U.S. soil, the CBC reported on Wednesday.

“I think there is a beginning of an understanding that they can’t bluster their way through this and there is an openness to collaborating in a way that perhaps they were less open before,” Trudeau said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“There’s an understanding that maybe, maybe just churning out attacks against Canada isn’t going to make this problem go away,” he added.

Trudeau announced Sept. 18 that Canadian intelligence agencies were pursuing credible allegations linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, 45-year-old Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia in June, upending diplomatic ties between the two nations.

The U.S. Justice Department in November charged a man accused of orchestrating an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist – a U.S. citizen of Indian origin living in New York City, alleging that an Indian government official directed the plan. U.S. officials did not name the targeted person.

After the U.S. revelations, Canadian officials pressed India to cooperate in its investigation of the June murder, which drew renewed attention to the movement for a Sikh homeland in northern India.

New Delhi had angrily rejected Canada’s claim, sparking a diplomatic row, with both sides expelling diplomats and trade talks potentially destabilized. By contrast, India said it was taking the U.S. indictment seriously and investigating.

Both the United States and Canada are seeking to build better ties with India to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

With inputs from agencies.

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