Two official summaries of a telephone call between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, released by their respective offices, differ in their recounting of the call. Among the most prominent disparity was the Canadian side mentioning Trudeau bring up the issue of "recent protests" in India, and calls for the resolving of issues through dialogue, while the Indian statement makes no much mention.
"The leaders discussed Canada and India's commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue", said the Canadian statement.
This is a reference to the ongoing farmer protests on the outskirts of Delhi. Trudeau became one of the earliest high profile foreign faces to bring attention to the protests; a list that has only grown recently to international celebrities like popstar Rihanna and climate change activist Greta Thunburg.
Another disparity in the call was the way in which both sides have outlined their conversation around COVID-19 and the vaccination initiatives adopted by countries around the world to counter the ongoing pandemic.
Though both statements recognise a conversation pertaining to COVID-19 vaccine, they differ in how it has been described.
The Canadian side recognised India's contribution in providing vaccine assistance around the world, and agreed to work together on vaccines. "Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Modi spoke about India's significant efforts in promoting vaccine production and supply, which have provided vital support to countries around the world. The two leaders agreed to work together on access to vaccines", says the Canadian statement.
But the Indian statement states that Trudeau informed Modi of Canada's vaccine requirements from India; with India replying that it would try its best.
"Prime Minister Trudeau informed Prime Minister Modi about Canada's requirements of COVID-19 vaccines from India. Prime Minister assured the Canadian PM that India would do its best to support Canada's vaccination efforts, just as it had done for many other countries already", the Indian statement said.
The Indian statement also mentions Trudeau praising Indian pharmaceutical capacity, and the role it will play in potentially vanquishing the pandemic, and Modi's leadership; sentiments that Modi thanked.
Tensions between the two countries arose post Trudeau's initial remarks in an address during last year's virtual Gurupurab celebrations in Canada on December 1.
"I would be remiss if I didn't start by recognising the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning, and we are all really worried about family and friends...Let me remind you...Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protests. We believe in the importance of dialogue and which is why we've reached out through multiple means directly to Indian authorities to highlight our concerns"
It can be watched here from the 21:12 minute in the video.
This resulted in a strong reaction from the Indian government, where the Ministry of External Affairs issued a demarche to the Canadian High Commissioner in India on the remarks, and stated later during its weekly press briefing that foreign leaders should stay away from India's internal matters.
The spat has given way to extensive conspiracy theories around Canada playing a role in foreign funding for the anti-farm law protestors and stoking secessionist feelings due to the large voter base in Canada consisting of the Sikh diaspora.
Differing statements released by foreign countries after telephone calls between two world leaders is not new, and are often tailored to suit the policies important to the respective governments.
In other such incident earlier this year, newly-sworn in US President Joe Biden spoke over the phone with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 23. While the British side said that they had discussed the potential of a trade deal between their two countries - something a post-Brexit United Kingdom looks to achieve due to its newly acquired freedom to pursue its own trade deals - the statement released by the White House made no such mention.
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