Udayavni Special

Punjab CM to meet Canadian PM; red carpet roll out for dignitary


Team Udayavani, Feb 20, 2018, 9:24 AM IST

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hold a meeting in Amritsar on February 21, officials said today ending long-standing uncertainty. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is all set to take Punjab’s close business as well as people-to-people relations with Canada to the next level, with a one-to-one meeting with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday, said an official spokesperson here.

“Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I’m hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries,” the chief minister tweeted.

The development came after there was an uncertainty over whether the Canadian premier would hold a meeting with Amarinder Singh during his short visit to Amritsar on February 21. Officials said that the chief minister would hold a meeting with the Canadian prime minister at a hotel in Amritsar after Trudeau pays obeisance at the Golden Temple.

Significantly, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan during the latter’s visit to Punjab last year. Amarinder Singh had even accused Sajjan of being a “Khalistani sympathiser”.

In 2016, when Amarinder Singh was the Punjab Congress chief, he had written a strongly-worded letter to the Canadian prime minister, lodging a protest on being denied permission for interaction with Punjabi NRIs in Canada in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly polls.

Amarinder Singh had called it a “gag order”. Meanwhile, Amarinder Singh has now directed the state administration to roll out the red carpet for the visiting dignitary. While trade and business will be the key focus areas at the meeting, the two leaders are also expected to discuss steps to intensify the close relations between the people of the two countries, according to a spokesperson of the chief minister’s office (CMO).

“Punjab has deep roots with Canada, where a large Punjabi community is settled, and has always striven to strengthen the connect,” said Amarinder Singh. He also referred to Trudeau’s apology, two years ago, in the Canadian parliament over the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, in which hundreds of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu passengers in a ship were denied entry in to Canada and forced to return to India, where they met a violent fate.

Meanwhile, the opposition SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal is expected to welcome the Canadian prime minister at the Golden Temple. “Sukhbir Badal will welcome the Canadian PM at the Golden Temple. He will honour Trudeau as party president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD),” said SAD spokesman and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema.

The Canadian premier is on a week-long visit to India accompanied by wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and three children -Ella-Grace, Xavier and Hadrien. On February 21, Trudeau will pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines and is also expected to visit the partition museum, officials said adding that he would land at the Amritsar airport in morning and would return to Delhi by 2 pm.

Amritsar Deputy Commissioner and a senior district police officer will receive Trudeau at the airport on February 21, officials said. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has planned special event in the honour of Trudeau when he visits the Golden Temple. SGPC, an apex religious body of the Sikhs, will honour Trudeau by presenting him a Siropa (robe of honour), replica of the Golden Temple and a sword, an SGPC official said.

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