Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will skip a Canada-led meeting on coronavirus, days after the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some other leaders commented on the ongoing farmers’ agitation, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. India even summoned the Canadian High Commissioner after Trudeau’s comments.
However, officially, India has cited “scheduling issues” as reason for giving the meeting a miss, and said that that it would not be correct to link the matter with Trudeau’s comments and the subsequent developments, The Indian Express reported.
The video call meeting, an initiative of Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne, with his counterpart from various nations, has been a regular affair since March 15. On November 3, Jaishankar took part in the 11th such call of the ministerial coordination group on Covid-19 hosted by Canada.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Trudeau reiterated his support for the right of farmers to protest, despite India expressing its displeasure on his previous comments, reported NDTV.
“Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protests anywhere around the world,” he said while responding to a reporter’s question on whether his comment damaged relations between the two countries. “And we are pleased to see moves towards de-escalation and dialogue.”
On December 1, Trudeau had spoken in support of the farmers’ protest, saying that his country will always defend the rights of peaceful protestors. “The situation [from the protest] is concerning,” he had said at an online event to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. “We’re all very worried about family and friends.”
India had responded saying the Canadian leader’s comments were “unwarranted and ill-informed”, especially when pertaining to the “internal affairs of a democratic country”.
On Friday, upon summoning the Canadian envoy, India said that that the comments made by Canadian politicians, including ministers and members of Parliament, “legitimise extremist activism”. A foreign ministry press release stated that such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada.