National security advisers of India and Canada met here this week, ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's seven-day visit to India from Saturday which is aimed at further boosting strategic ties with a focus on defence and counter-terror cooperation.
The two NSAs prepared the ground for Trudeau and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intensify defence and security cooperation, and India's concerns over rising Sikh radicalism in Canada are understood to have figured in the meeting held a couple days back, Canadian diplomatic sources indicated.
On trade, the sources said Canadian investments in India were likely to decline in absence of a mechanism to protect them and Trudeau and Modi may deliberate, during their talks on February 23, on making forward movement in firming up the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.
The negotiators of both the countries met last week to overcome the hurdles in finalising the pact, the sources said, adding Canadian investments in India were around USD 15 billion in the last couple of years, and a free trade pact will further encourage investors from that country.
In 2017, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and India amounted to USD 8.4 billion, split equally between exports to and imports from India (USD 4 billion each).
A number of Canadian pension funds are also keen to invest in India.
The sources said the objective of the Canadian prime minister's visit here would be to expand overall ties between the two countries with a focus on defence and security, counter-terror cooperation, trade and investment and tackling climate change.
Both sides are also expected to deliberate on enhancing cooperation in civil nuclear sector.
A number of Trudeau's cabinet colleagues including Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, Defence MInister Harjit Singh Sajjan, Science and Sports Minister Kirsty Duncan and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi are also visiting India.
When referred to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh calling Canadian Defence Minister Sajjan as "Khalistani sympathiser" ahead of his visit here last year, the diplomatic sources called the remarks "disappointing and inaccurate".
"This will be an opportunity for the prime minister to promote Canada-India cooperation on a range of issues and highlight Canada's support for a strong, united, diverse India and to further strengthen the vibrant strategic partnership," said a Canadian diplomatic source.
Besides his engagements in Delhi, Trudeau will visit Agra, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Amritsar.
Officials said Trudeau's his visit to Gujarat will be first by a Canadian prime minister.
Trudeau, who will be accompanied by his wife and three children, is schedule to visit Taj Mahal on February 18, and next day he will travel to Ahmedabad where he will visit Sabarmati Ashram. He will visit Akshardham temple in Gandhi Nagar and participate at an event at IIM-Ahmedabad.
On February 20, he will visit Mumbai where he will hold meetings with top business leaders and meet representatives of Indian Film industry to explore various opportunities in the field of cinema.
On February 21, the Canadian PM will travel to Amritsar where he will visit the Golden Temple. He will return to Delhi the same day.
Trudeau is scheduled to visit Jama Masjid and a cricket ground here on February 22 besides delivering a lecture at a gathering of Canadian and Indian business leaders.
He will hold wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Modi on February 23.
The next day, he is scheduled to address a conference of young change-makers before wrapping up his visit.
The ties between India and Canada have been on an upswing. Approximately 1.4 million Canadians are of Indian heritage and India is Canada's second largest source of immigrants.
Canada is also a leading education destination for Indian students, and India is the second largest source of international students, an estimated 124,000 in 2017, as per official figures.