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Canadian PM in India to boost economic ties

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ASHOK SHARMA | November 6, 2012 11:27 AM EST | AP

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NEW DELHI — India and Canada agreed Tuesday to boost cooperation in civil nuclear energy, agriculture, information technology and defense.

Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh said there was "enormous potential" for increased sales of Canadian oil and natural gas and cooperation in renewable energy.

Harper said the two countries welcomed the conclusion of discussions on implementing an agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation they signed two years ago.

The agreement provides Canada's nuclear industry access to India's expanding civilian nuclear market under international safeguards.

"Canada is an energy superpower. India has enormous energy needs," Harper told reporters.

India said cooperation with Canada in agriculture was crucial to its food security because it imports 40 percent of its beans and 25 percent of its potash from Canada.

Singh said the two countries had similar concerns about terrorism and extremism and agreed to deepen their cooperation in counterterrorism.

Indian and Canadian officials signed three agreements on avoidance of double social security contributions by workers and cooperation in the areas of information technology, electronics and joint research and development in defense and science and technology, an Indian government statement said.

Canada is seeking to boost its presence in Asia. Two-way trade between Canada and India reached $5.2 billion last year, up more than 28 percent from 2010. Total Canadian investment in India is estimated at about $4.3 billion, India's External Affairs Ministry said.

Harper said both sides expect trade will triple to $15 billion by 2015.

Canada mainly exports vegetables, fertilizer, machinery and wood pulp, while its main imports from India are organic chemicals, knit and woven apparel, precious stones and metals, electronics and machinery.

Harper is to visit Bangalore, a center of India's information technology industry, before finishing his six-day visit to India on Friday.