21:42 GMT24 February 2021
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    While Canada claims that PM Justin Trudeau raised the issue of farmer protests with Narendra Modi during a telephone call between the two on Wednesday, India has refused to divulge any information in its official readout. In the past, New Delhi has been highly critical of Trudeau over his remarks about the ongoing protests by farmers.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday called up his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and sought COVID vaccine shots for Canada, a readout of the telephone call between the two released by India's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

    "Prime Minister Trudeau informed Prime Minister Modi about Canada's requirements of COVID-19 vaccines from India. The prime minister assured the Canadian PM that India would do its best to support Canada's vaccination efforts, just as it had done for many other countries already", said India's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

    ​Acknowledging that discussions on vaccine cooperation did indeed take place during the call, Canada's statement on the call also mentioned that Trudeau raised the issue of protests by farmers with Modi during the chat.

    "The leaders discussed Canada and India's commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue", said a readout of the conversation released by the Canadian Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

    ​The reference to protests was, however, missing from India's official statement, nor referred to by the Indian leader in his tweet.

    Trudeau taking up the farmer protests with Modi marks the first time the Canadian PM has brought up the issue during a bilateral conversation.

    Trudeau, who has been regularly speaking up about Indian farmers' right to "peaceful protest", had in November of last year raised hackles in New Delhi after saying in a video address to members of the Canadian Sikh community that Ottawa was "concerned" about the agitation and stood by the farmers' right to protest.

    At the time, Trudeau's statement sparked a strong reaction from New Delhi, who summoned Canadian High Commissioner to New Delhi Nadir Patel  days later to lodge an official protest against the Canadian PM's remarks.

    In spite of the complaint, Trudeau continued to maintain that Canada stood by the farmers' right to "peaceful protest", adding that he also "welcomed" the opening of a dialogue between the protesters and Indian authorities.

    Thousands of farmers have been protesting in several parts of the country, including the outskirts of Delhi, against three farm laws passed by the Narendra Modi government last September. Farmers claim that these laws will weaken the present price guarantee system and corporations will benefit from these laws. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, referred to these laws as historic, saying they will help increase their income.


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    protest, farmers, India, COVID-19, Narendra Modi, Justin Trudeau
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