Five days after landing in India, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau met Prime Minister Narendra Modi today at his ceremonial welcome in Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan. PM Modi greeted Mr Trudeau with his signature bear-hug and posed for photographs with his family, including his daughter Ella Grace, seen in a 2015 photo tweeted by Mr Modi last evening. The two leaders will have a bilateral meeting today. Mr Trudeau’s first visit to India has been clouded by talk of a frosty reception on account of the Canadian government’s perceived soft approach to Sikh extremists demanding Khalistan. The invite to a convicted Khalistani terrorist to official Trudeau events has deeply embarrassed Canada; Prime Minister Trudeau said he would take action.
“I hope PM @JustinTrudeau and his family had a very enjoyable stay so far. I particularly look forward to meeting his children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien. Here is a picture from my 2015 Canada visit, when I’d met PM Trudeau and Ella-Grace,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
At today’s bilateral meeting, PM Modi and Mr Trudeau are expected to focus on trade, defence, civil nuclear cooperation, space, tackling climate change energy and education.
Cooperation on counter-terror measures is also expected to be a key area of focus in view of India’s concerns over Sikh radicalism in Canada.
On Wednesday, the dinner invitation to Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal at a reception for Mr Trudeau at the Canada House in the national capital was cancelled. On Tuesday, he had attended an event in Mumbai and was photographed with Mr Trudeau’s wife Sophie Trudeau and Canadian minister Amarjeet Sohi.
The invitations proved a huge embarrassment to Canada and Mr Trudeau said he would take action against the person responsible for issuing the invitation to Jaspal Atwal, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for trying to kill a Punjab minister visiting Canada in 1986. Canadian parliamentarian Randeep Sarai has taken the blame and issued an apology.
Mr Trudeau addressed a business summit in Delhi and visited the national capital’s Jama Masjid on Wednesday. He also visited Modern High School’s cricket grounds, where he and his three children tried their hands at batting.
On Wednesday, Justin Trudeau and his family visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest shrine for Sikhs. They offered Kar Seva and were seen trying to make rotis under the guidance of celebrity chef Vikas Khanna.
The Trudeaus have also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram in Gujarat’s Sabarmati, addressed students at Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad and met with Bollywood celebrities Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan.
The absence of any welcome tweet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who had broken protocol to receive several world leaders at the airport — is seen as a snub. PM Modi had not accompanied Mr Trudeau during his visit home state Gujarat either, a courtesy that was extended to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The visit of the 46-year-old Prime Minister — who once remarked that he had more Sikhs in his cabinet than PM Modi — is seen as an outreach to the Sikhs residing in Canada, who form a chunk of Mr Trudeau’s domestic constituency. An estimated 1.4 million people of Indian origin are settled in Canada.