New Delhi: India and Canada Tuesday sought to boost their cooperation in a range of areas including education and nuclear cooperation with visiting Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird expressing his country’s desire to be a reliable partner in meeting India’s energy needs.

Baird and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Tuesday chaired the second strategic dialogue between the two countries.

Briefing reporters about the meeting, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said cooperation was a major area of discussion between the two sides.

He said Baird was in the US during Modi’s visit to that country last month and witnessed the “enthusiasm for India”.

Baird noted that partnership with India really mattered to Canada and his country was keen to enhance the bilateral partnership, he said.

Akbaruddin said Canada extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “a visit at an early date” which was accepted.

Sushma Swaraj said during the strategic dialogue meeting that India sees “natural synergy and tremendous potential” in areas of mutual interest including energy, education, skill development, nuclear cooperation and trade.

She said India intended to accelerate the pace of growing partnership and deepen it further.

Akbaruddin said Baird expressed his country’s desire to be a reliable partner in supply of energy and laid out his country’s plans for boosting production of hydrocarbons.

Canada was expected to produce 7 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 and was working for creating outlets on its east coast for making it easier for India to off take oil, he added.

He hoped that the contract for supply of uranium from Canada would “be in place in not too distant future”.

Akbaruddin said that India and Canada were jointly hosting workshop on nuclear security.

He said the two sides also discussed ways for Canada to assist in skill development in hydrocarbon sector and welding.

With the bilateral trade estimated at $5 billion, the two sides said that investment opportunities on both sides need to be expanded.

Answering a query, Akbaruddin said there was possibility of a meeting between Modi and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper next month during the G 20 meeting in Australia.

During the meeting, Sushma Swaraj raised India’s concerns about radical Sikh elements misusing Canada’s soil and of the need of ease of travel for IT professionals from India, he said.

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