Diplomacy Politics

Modi, Trudeau urge Maldives to restore democratic process

NEW DELHI: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had declared at a reception Thursday that if India and Canada got it right, the future of the whole world would be bright. The joint statement issued after his meeting with his counterpart Narendra Modi seemed to reflect some of that sentiment in the way it dived deep into major international issues which, it said, the two countries would jointly work on.
For example, unlike the previous 2015 joint statement issued after Modi’s meeting with then PM Stephen Harper, the joint statement on this occasion reaffirmed the “importance of lawful commerce and the freedom of navigation and over-flight throughout the Indo-Pacific region, in accordance with international law, including the rights and jurisdiction of states under UNCLOS”. The Modi-Harper joint statement was silent over the disputes in South China Sea where China has built artificial islands in disputed waters and militarised them.

The two leaders also seemed to take a dig at China’s OBOR by saying that they were looking to bolster regional connectivity through “transparent development of infrastructure and use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law and environment.”

The two leaders also discussed the situation in the Maldives where president Abdulla Yameen has undermined the Constitution to hold on to power. They expressed concern about recent developments in Maldives and their implications for a free society.

“As leaders of parliamentary systems, they deplored the degradation of judicial independence and authority and of democratic institutions, as well as respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of speech and assembly, constitutional rights and obligations under international law,” said the joint statement.

In a clear message to Yameen, they urged Maldives to ensure early resumption of the political process after revoking the state of emergency and to allow democratic institutions, including the judiciary, to function independently in a fair and transparent manner.

Trudeau, whose Liberal party has often been accused of being soft on Sikh separatists, surprised many by coming down hard on Sikh extremism. Indian officials said Canada remained a valued strategic partner which had fully backed India’s NSG membership bid.

Modi and Trudeau also discussed the humanitarian and security crisis in Rakhine State of Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh. They called for voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the people displaced, while stressing the importance of ensuring law and order and respect for human dignity in this process.

“They called for restoration of humanitarian access for relevant UN and other international organisations to facilitate the return process,” said the joint statement.

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