21 Oct :Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday for summit talks with his counterpart Taro Aso during which they are expected to discuss a joint strategy to overcome the global financial crisis and possible cooperation in the civil nuclear energy sector.
Singh, accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, was accorded a warm welcome by Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone upon his arrival at the Tokyo International Airport.
"I consider our bilateral relations with Japan to be one of the most important bilateral relationships we have. A strong India-Japan relationship will play a significant role in the emerging Asian security architecture and will contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of Asia and the world," the Prime Minister said ahead of his arrival at Tokyo.
Aso also expressed the hope that Singh’s visit to Japan will give a renewed momentum to the enhancement of the Japan-India relations.
"I think the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be a significant opportunity for stock-taking of the various endeavours the two countries have already undertaken under their leaders’ initiatives, as well as to demonstrate the initiatives that are currently underway in various fields including security cooperation," he said.
Describing the Japanese Prime Minister as a "close friend of India", Singh said in his departure statement in New Delhi that the two sides will review the progress that has been achieved in the bilateral ties over the last one year and set the agenda for the next year.
Singh and Aso will hold talks on Wednesday during which the entire gamut of bilateral ties, including possible civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries, is likely to figure.
The two leaders are also expected to deliberate on the global financial crisis and discuss ways to deal with it.
"Last year, we had laid out a roadmap for the strategic and global partnership…. and we look forward to carrying on through discussions," Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said in New Delhi on Monday.
Singh and Aso will also discuss the implementation of the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project being built with Japanese assistance.
The Prime Minister will travel to Beijing from Japan for the 7th ASEM Summit which will be attended by India for the first time.
India, Japan to ink security cooperation agreement
India and Japan are expected to sign a historic security cooperation agreement during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in Tokyo, official sources said on Tuesday.
"India and Japan are working on a joint declaration on security cooperation. We are hopeful that we will have something at the end of the visit," sources said.
"We have made steady progress on this issue," they said, noting that there have been high-level exchanges between the two countries with the two sides also engaging in counter-terrorism talks.
Earlier, Prime Minister Singh said he considered India’s ties with Japan as one of the most important bilateral relationships of the country.
"A strong India-Japan relationship will play a significant role in the emerging Asian security architecture and will contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of Asia and the world," Singh had said in his departure statement.
Official sources said India-Japan security cooperation has moved very fast since the two nations decided to upgrade their ties to strategic levels in 2006.
A Joint Statement issued during the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukerjee’s visit to Japan in May 2006 had put in place a structured framework for a dialogue for cooperation and exchanges.
The Secretary-level Defence Policy Dialogue has held its first round of discussions in April 2007 and a second round is likely to be held later this year in Delhi.
Both sides also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Coast Guards in November 2006.
Japanese Defence Minister Y Koike visited India in August 2007 and the fifth meeting of the Comprehensive Security Dialogue was held in Tokyo in February this year.
The second meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism was held in New Delhi in December 2007, an official source said.
A calendar of events for 2008 has been finalised for promoting defence exchanges and cooperation in an institutionalised framework, the source said.
A Squadron of three Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force ships visited Mumbai on a goodwill mission in August this year.
The Naval Chief of India also visited Japan in August this year, building on the fast-developing military ties.
On counter-terrorism cooperation, sources said the two nations could learn from each other despite the fact that they have faced different situations.
"We have common interest in keeping the maritime lines open. Energy is one area where we have common interest as the sea lanes are the same," they said. Courtsey DDINEWS