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India, Japan to expand strategic relations

Sandeep Dikshit

Agree to continue talks on civil nuclear agreement

Photo: AP

MOVING TOGETHER:Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan shake hands after exchanging documents on an agreement signed at the latter's official residence in Tokyo on Monday.

TOKYO: India and Japan on Monday decided to extend their cooperation to areas such as joint ventures in rare earth minerals, some hitherto unexplored areas in defence, and transport and industrial corridors in south India.

These will build on a recently finalised economic pact, more intimate security ties, two mega infrastructure projects in north-western India and ongoing talks on a nuclear agreement.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan, during restricted and delegation-level talks, resolved to continue talks on a civil nuclear agreement. They instructed officials to ensure the smooth implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and accelerate discussions on the reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to which both countries are aspirants as permanent members.

“In the discussions, the point consistently emphasised was that both India and Japan believe they need to develop a strong, vigorous and an all-encompassing relationship in political, economic and security spheres,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told newspersons after the meeting. She termed the economic pact an alliance between Japanese technology and capital and a young Indian labour force.

Dr. Singh and Mr. Naoto Kan also discussed China.

“Both discussed need for open and transparent dialogue with China…they agreed that engaging China in more productive dialogue and developing structures of cooperation is the way forward. It requires deep analysis, close engagement and lots of patience…the reality is that both will have to develop in-depth ties with China,” Ms. Rao said.

Both sides would move towards long-term cooperation — including the implementation of joint ventures in rare earth minerals — and denied that this was directed against a third country (China recently halted export of rare earth minerals to Japan).

On civil nuclear cooperation, India and Japan will hold the third round of talks here in November third week. While Japan is keen on some sort of Indian political commitment on moving closer to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty regime, India has pointed out that its civil nuclear agreement with Japan cannot be materially different from agreements signed with other countries.

They also touched on trade in high technology, with Dr. Singh hoping that Japan will make its norms in this area “easier and predictable.” India appreciated Japan's paring down of the list of Indian companies on the export control list early this year.

The two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on simplifying visa procedures that would supplement the CEPA by catering to India's areas of strength in pharmaceuticals, healthcare personnel and information technology.

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