Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 5
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar may not attend a meeting of Canada-led 14-nation grouping, apparently in protest against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s observations on the farmers’ protest.
Meanwhile, the office of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said people have a right to demonstrate peacefully and authorities should let them do so. Several MPs of Indian-origin and some from Green and Labour parties from the UK, Canada and Australia have also commented on the stir.
To a question on the farmers’ protests in India, the spokesperson for Guterres framed the reply in broad terms.
“As to the question of India, what I would say is what I’ve said to others when raising these issues is that people have a right to demonstrate peacefully, and authorities need to let them do so,” said Stephane Dujarric.
Trudeau, in his second comments on the farmers’ stir, said, “Canada will always stand up for the right for peaceful protest and for human rights around the world and we are pleased to see moves toward de-escalation and dialogue.’’
India had reacted sharply to his first comment when he used words such as “concern”.
The MEA had then summoned the Canadian envoy and issued a statement terming the comments as “ill-informed and unwarranted as the matter pertained to the internal affairs of a democratic country”.
Meanwhile, Jaishankar reportedly has scheduling issues on Tuesday, making it difficult for him to attend the next meeting of the 14-nation Covid group that spans four continents. India had joined the group last month in recognition of its critical role in addressing global Covid vaccine and pharmaceutical needs.
The Canada-led Ministerial Coordination Group of Covid-19 (MCGC) has been meeting regularly for over eight months and includes three RCEP and UNSC permanent members each.
The Indian side has been hinting at political motives behind Trudeau’s comments with MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava stating earlier this week that “it is best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes”.
With farmers having met government representatives several times, Trudeau in his second comments had welcomed “the move to dialogue and de-escalation”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently virtually addressed a gathering of businesspersons from Canada and India, a move seen as bringing back focus of bilateral ties to investment and trade. The two envoys, Ajay Bisaria and Nadir Patel, were also taking coordinated initiatives to move forward bilateral ties.