The Canadian Trade Minister, Mary Ng, has decided to delay a trade mission to India initially scheduled for October, as per an official statement made on Friday. This postponement underscores the escalating diplomatic tensions between the two nations. This development comes shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his displeasure with his Canadian counterpart during a G20 summit held in New Delhi.

Shanti Cosentino, a spokesperson for the minister, stated, “At this time, we are postponing the upcoming trade mission to India,” as reported by Reuters.

During the G20 summit, PM Modi, who engaged in formal bilateral meetings with various world leaders, provided only a brief, informal meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, creating a noticeable diplomatic snub.

Canada hosts the largest population of Sikhs outside of their native Punjab in India, and the country has been the backdrop for numerous protests that have drawn India’s ire.

Following the leaders’ encounter, the Indian government remarked, “They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship.”

On Friday, India declared a pause in trade negotiations with Canada, a move that Canada had previously announced earlier this month, citing the need to “take stock,” as reported by Reuters. Just four months ago, both nations had expressed their intent to finalize an initial trade agreement within the year.

Meanwhile, discussions between India and Canada regarding the free trade agreement (FTA), which resumed after a decade-long hiatus, have come to a standstill due to political concerns.

While not explicitly referencing the Khalistan issue, which has created friction between the two countries, the official mentioned that negotiations would recommence once the “political issues” are resolved.

The official further explained, “Certain political developments in Canada have been met with India’s objections. India has expressed its discontent regarding certain political developments in Canada, and therefore, for the time being, negotiations have been put on hold until these political issues are addressed.”

Over the past months, multiple rounds of talks have occurred between the two nations concerning the trade pact. In March 2022, negotiations were relaunched for an interim agreement known as the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA).

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