Prime Minister Stephen Harper has assured India that Canada is working with U.S. authorities to share information on a Canadian terrorism suspect who was reportedly in Mumbai days before an attack in the city last year.
Harper, meeting with Indian officials on Tuesday in New Delhi for talks on a proposed nuclear co-operation deal, also said he has full trust that India will safeguard its civilian nuclear program, a position that is likely to pave the way for Canada to sell nuclear technology.
The nuclear talks come at an awkward time, however, as India's government put its nuclear installations on high alert amid reports of possible terrorist interest in several facilities.
The alert came after allegations that a Pakistani-born Canadian man being held in Chicago, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, may have visited some nuclear facilities and attempted terrorist recruitment in Mumbai.
Harper said Canada has worked closely with the U.S. on the investigation and spoke of it with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"Prime Minister Singh and I certainly discussed the case and are certainly resolved to co-operate closely in the future and exchange information on these matters," he said.
In Ottawa, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, who headed an inquiry into the Air India tragedy, said it is important not to jump to conclusions based on media reports in India, but added that Canadian and Indian authorities will need to co-operate.
"We learned with the Air India bombing itself in 1985 that terrorism and the planning of it knows no borders or boundaries," said Rae.
Terrorist threat heightens security fears
Rana has been in custody for over a month since he and another man, David Coleman Headley, were arrested by U.S. authorities on charges of plotting a possible terrorist attack against Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
The newspaper sparked outrage in the Muslim world in 2005 when it published 12 cartoons that depicted images of the Prophet Muhammad, an act forbidden by Islamic law.
Several Indian newspapers reported allegations Tuesday that Rana and another suspect were in Mumbai in 2008, shortly before attacks at a number of hotels in Mumbai killed almost 170 people, including two Canadians.
The alert for nuclear facilities highlights the security issues involved in selling nuclear technology to India.
Canada's nuclear trade with India stalled in 1974, when India tested its first atomic weapon with the unauthorized help of Canadian nuclear technology.
Nuclear deal in the works
Harper announced in January he wanted to renew nuclear ties with India as part of an overall effort to improve trade between the two countries, and has made economic ties the main focus of his visit to the South Asian country that began Monday.
In Ottawa, the NDP and Bloc Québécois assailed the Harper government for pressing ahead with plans to sell Canadian nuclear technology to India without insisting that India sign the non-proliferation treaty.
However, Rae supported the government's stance, arguing that India has changed since it first developed nuclear weapons "a long time ago" in 1974.
On Tuesday Harper led a roundtable discussion with representatives from India's and Canada's nuclear power sectors. Canadian representatives said a deal will not be signed here this week.
Hugh MacDiarmid, the president and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., told The Canadian Press he was part of the luncheon meeting with Harper and said he saw "no fundamental obstacles" remaining on the nuclear co-operation deal.
MacDiarmid stressed he is not party to details of the negotiations, but said he believes the differences between Canada and India are "relatively modest and can be bridged."
After the meeting with business leaders but before sitting down with Singh, the prime minister and his wife Laureen visited the memorial site to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of modern India.
Harper inscribed the visitor's book calling Gandhi a "model for all humanity," then he and Laureen tossed rose petals on the spare, black marble monument.