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Manmohan, Harper to meet soon: Sharma

India and Canada have agreed in principle to establish six working groups on PPP model, focusing on various sectors, including infrastructure and education.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would meet his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper soon, to launch formal negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic-Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has said.

"Both Prime Ministers will meet soon to launch formal negotiations for CEPA," Sharma said, while inaugurating the Canada-India Centre for Excellence in Science, Technology, Trade and Policy at the Carleton University in Ottawa on Saturday.

The minister, however, did not elaborate on the timing and place of the meeting between the two prime ministers.

Sharma was here on an official visit from September 23 to 25 at the invitation of Canadian Minister of International Trade, Van Loan.

A joint statement issued at the end of Sharma's visit said he and Loan announced the acceptance of the Canada-India Joint Study Group Report that examined the feasibility of CEPA.

They welcomed and endorsed the Joint Study Group recommendation that negotiations be initiated towards a substantive and ambitious CEPA, the joint statement said.

Sharma said under the umbrella of the Ministerial Dialogue, both countries have agreed in principle to set up six working groups to boost bilateral trade and investment , and added: "India's trade and investment partnership with Canada is on an exciting path - one that holds great promise for both the countries, as we continue toward lasting economic recovery."

"Both countries have agreed in principle to establish six working groups on public- private-partnership model, focusing on infrastructure, energy, mining, agro-processing, information and communication technologies, and education. The working groups will consist of top officials, academicians and business leaders from both the countries," Sharma said.

He said the decision to set up working groups was taken after his meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Harper, Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan and other ministers and top officials on Friday.

During his visit, Sharma participated in the First Annual Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment.

The statement said the two ministers looked toward to an early signing of documents, followed by ratification and implementation of the Social Security Agreement (SSA).

They noted that the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) was under negotiation and looked forward to its early conclusion. These two agreements would make a significant contribution to the commercial and economic interaction between the two countries.