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After flipflops, Canadian defence minister to be given guard of honour

Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan will be accorded a guard of honour at South Block in the Capital on Tuesday following a last-minute confusion over whether the ceremonial welcome will be extended to him. The confusion was created by a defence ministry advisory issued on Monday evening saying that the tri-service guard of honour had been cancelled. It was a revised advisory. However, government sources clarified on Monday night that there had been some miscommunication on the issue and the guard of honour would take place as scheduled at 11.20am on Tuesday.

The development comes at a time when Sajjan s week-long visit to the country has become mired in controversy with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh refusing to meet the Canadian minister, calling him a Khalistani sympathiser.

The state government would provide full security to Canadian minister and also ensure that he gets due treatment as per protocol, but I would not be seen hobnobbing with a Khalistani sympathiser, Singh had said. The Canadian high commission was bombarded with queries from journalists seeking the mission s reaction to the cancellation of the guard of honour. The high commission refused to comment. Last week, the high commission termed the Punjab chief minister s remarks as inaccurate and disappointing .

Both Singh and Sajjan have served in the armed forces of their countries. Sajjan is scheduled to meet Union finance, defence and corporate affairs minister Arun Jaitley and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, besides other ministers and government officials. He will address a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday evening. He is scheduled to reach Punjab on April 21. Sources in the Canadian high commission said he would inaugurate the new office of the consulate general of Canada in Chandigarh on the same day.

The Canadian minister will leave for Amritsar to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple the same day, sources added. He will also meet civil society organisations during his two-day stay in Punjab.

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