Canada on Wednesday agreed to supply 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium to energy-hungry India from this year under a $254 million (Rs 1,584 crore) five-year deal to power Indian reactors as the two countries decided to set in motion a new strategic partnership.
The agreement for uranium supply, which came two years after protracted negotiations following the 2013 civil nuclear deal between India and Canada, was signed after comprehensive talks Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.
Cameco Corporation will supply 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium over five years to India at an estimated cost of $254 million and the supply will start from this year, a top official said.
Canada is the third country to supply uranium to India after Russia and Kazakhstan.
The supplies will be under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
At a joint press conference with Harper, the prime minister said, "The agreement on procurement of uranium from Canada for our civilian nuclear power plants launches a new era of bilateral cooperation and a new level of mutual trust and confidence."
"The supply of uranium is important as India is keen to have clean energy. The world is worried about global warming and climate change. We want to give something to humanity through clean energy. It is costly but we are doing this for humanity. For us, uranium is not just a mineral but an article of faith and an effort to save the world from climate change," he said in response to a question.
Harper said, "There have been unnecessary frosty relations for too long (between the two countries) and it is time to move ahead."
Modi said, "The deal will enable India to power its growth using clean energy."
Canada had banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s.
However, the two countries turned the page in 2013 with the signing of the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, paving the way for the uranium deal.
Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Canada in 42 years, said the resource-rich country has the potential to be a key partner in India's national development priority.
"This is a growing relationship. Trade potential between our countries is enormous. Prime Minister Harper and I are committed to establish a new framework for economic partnership," the Prime Minister said, adding, "Ours is a natural partnership of shared values."
"Our relationship had drifted in the past. In recent years, Prime Minister Harper's vision and leadership changed the course of our relations. I am conscious of the significance of this visit in the history of our relations," Modi said.
The prime minister, who is on a three-day visit to Canada, held wide-ranging discussions with Harper on a host of issues covering threats posed by terrorism besides exploring the huge potential for cooperation in energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and skills, smart cities, agro industries, research and education.
On threats posed by terrorism, he said, "We in India felt Canada's pain when this city was struck by a senseless act of terrorism" in October last year when a gunman attacked the Canadian Parliament, leaving one dead.
"The threat of terrorism is growing; its shadow extends over cities and lives across the world. We will deepen our cooperation to combat terrorism and extremism. We will also promote a comprehensive global strategy, and consistent policy and action against all sources of terrorism and its support," Modi said.
"The parliament is a temple of democracy and any attack on the parliament is not just an attack on a building but on democracy. All those who believe in humanism should unite to fight against terrorism. There is a need for a UN resolution to fight terrorism," he said.
"Terrorism has transcended borders. We have to unite to fight terrorism. Terrorism has no race or colour," he added.
Noting that few countries in the world can match Canada's potential to be a partner in India's economic transformation, Modi said advantage can be taken of a new environment in India which is "open, predictable, stable and easy to do business in".
"Equally, the vast scale of India's transformation, and our rapid economic growth, offers immense opportunities for Canada," he said.
The prime minister said both he and Harper are "absolutely committed" to establish a new framework for economic partnership.
"I am confident that we can conclude the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement very soon. We will also implement the road map to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement by September 2015," he said.
The two sides inked 13 agreements on skill development which Modi said, "reflect my commitment to empower the youth of India with world class skills for India and the global economy."
On the agreement on cooperation in space, the prime minister said the two countries have strong synergy for cooperation in areas of advanced technologies.
"To support greater engagement and people-to-people contacts, we have liberalised our visa policy for Canada. We will issue Electronic Visa Authorisation for tourist visa for Canadian nationals. They will also be eligible for ten-year visas now," he said.
Modi said both sides agreed that a strong bilateral relationship will provide a solid foundation to pursue common international interests.
"We also agree on the need to enhance our defence and security cooperation. I welcome our recent agreement on cyber security. We both recognise that peace and stability in West Asia will make us safer at home; so will Afghanistan's successful transition," he added.
Describing Indo-Canadian ties as a "natural partnership of shared values", Modi said, "It is an economic partnership of immense mutual benefit. It is a strategic partnership that can help address many of our shared global challenges."
Modi said he was confident that his visit will be a springboard for a new strategic partnership between our two democracies.
Earlier, Modi called on Canada's Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall.
The prime minister will on Thursday be hosted to a reception by Harper in Toronto, where he will also meet the Indian diaspora and attend a reception by Indian High Commissioner Vishnu Prakash. The prime minister will also travel to Vancouver before reaching Delhi on Saturday morning.
Image: Prime Minister Modi with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper of Canada in Ottawa.