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Narendra Modi is Prime Minister of India

I have come to build a strategic partnership with Canada in pursuit of India's economic transformation and a more peaceful, secure and stable future for our two countries.

After more than four decades, an Indian Prime Minister is visiting Ottawa. Our relationship has been adrift in the past. The potential of our partnership remained a promise on a distant shore. However, in recent years, India and Canada have begun rediscovering each other. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has led with great vision to chart a new, more purposeful course in our relationship. As in Canada, the relationship enjoys broad political support in India.

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A close strategic partnership between India and Canada is natural. We are two major democracies and pluralist societies. Our citizens enjoy individual rights and liberty; diverse cultures, religions and languages flourish in our two nations. The 1.2 million Canadians of Indian origin, deeply admired here and in India for their achievements and contribution to Canada, provide a strong human bond to our relationship. Indian students in Canada are a bridge to this partnership's future.

Our relationship can also be immensely mutually beneficial. The second-most-populous country in the world has shifted economic gear. In India's election in May, 2014, for the first time in three decades, a government won a majority in Parliament. It was a decisive mandate for good governance and economic progress. We have moved with speed and resolve to fulfill our pledge. We have reformed policies, procedures and institutions and launched many new initiatives to accelerate economic growth, build world class and sustainable infrastructure, revolutionize our manufacturing sector, clean up our environment, and transform our cities and villages.

Our progress is based on the participation of every citizen, secure about her rights, confident of her opportunities and able to seize them.

The pessimism of the past has turned into optimism about the future. India has become the fastest-growing major economy in the world. Multilateral institutions, credit rating agencies, independent experts and, above all, investors are unanimous in their vote of confidence in India.

India is a country with 800 million people below the age of 35; with a railway that carries more passengers daily than the population of three-fourths of the countries in the world; with 600,000 villages, and 500 cities with a population of 100,000 or more. The scale of every endeavour of ours is vast and, therefore, the opportunities we offer are enormous. There is no area of national development priority in which Canada cannot be an important partner – energy and mineral resources, finance and infrastructure, manufacturing and technology, science and technology, and human resource development. Equally, no other country will offer as much opportunity to Canada as India – and, all in the comfort of a familiar political system and shared values.

I hope to make this visit a springboard to take our partnership in trade, investment and innovation to a new level. We will encourage and facilitate closer engagement between our industries. We will benefit immensely by early conclusion of a Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

We can harness our synergies in science and technology to develop affordable solutions to the challenges of our times – food security, health and climate change. Our co-operation in education and skills will prepare the global work force for tomorrow.

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Third, our relationship is of growing strategic value. In a troubled world, countries with similar values seek each other with natural instincts. India and Canada are on the opposite sides of the globe, but we have shared interests and face many common challenges. The changing character and growing reach of terrorism have made cities and communities across the world more vulnerable. India and Canada must strengthen their co-operation and seek a comprehensive global response to terrorism. We must also prepare ourselves for the challenges in the cyberworld and outer space.

Peace and stability in West Asia will make us safer at home; so will Afghanistan's successful transition. Canada is a major Asia-Pacific country and should play a more active role, including in regional institutions, in promoting a stable and prosperous future for the region. Our partnership helps advance the cause of global economic revival in the G20. Canada's leadership secured India its observer status in the Arctic Council.

During this visit, our two countries will resume commercial co-operation in civil nuclear energy after decades. This will be a defining symbol of our mutual trust and understanding, and of our willingness to look beyond the boundaries of the past to the opportunities of the future. We should pursue the possibilities with the same resolve in every walk of life.

As Chief Minister, I have experienced the strength and value of Canada's partnership. I seek the same for India. In turn, as Canada looks west to the Pacific and Asia, she will find no stronger partner than India in the dynamic region. The success of our partnership will also reinforce our shared ideals in the world, which is so important for its peaceful, sustainable and prosperous future.

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