Strong India-Japan ties key to peace in Asia: PM (Lead)

October 21st, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Describing ties with Japan as “one of the most important bilateral relationships” of India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left for Tokyo Tuesday on a visit that seeks to underline the importance of ties between the two nations for stability in Asia and the world. After two days in Tokyo, the prime minister will go to Beijing to attend the seventh summit of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) that is aimed at bringing the two continents closer politically and economically.

“I consider our bilateral relations with Japan to be one of the most important bilateral relationships we have. India and Japan are two major countries in Asia, sharing many similar interests and subscribing to common values,” the prime minister said in a departure statement at the beginning of his two-nation visit.

“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,” he said.

Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Japan’s new Premier Taro Aso on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. The focus of the visit will be a security pact that is likely to be signed after talks between the two leaders.

The security pact aims at expanding the scope of cooperation between the militaries and the security establishments of the two countries - a move that is likely to lend more weight to the strategic partnership between the two Asian giants.

Describing Aso, a former foreign minister, as a “close friend of India”, Manmohan Singh said: “We will review the progress that has been achieved in our bilateral ties over the last one year and set the agenda for the next year.”

“Even though over the last four years there has been significant progress in all aspects of our bilateral relationship, there is still a lot of untapped potential that remains to be realised.”

With Japan looking at India afresh as an investment hub, Manmohan Singh is likely to make a strong pitch for attracting Japanese investment in India at the second meeting of the India-Japan Business Leaders Forum.

After Japan, Manmohan Singh will travel to Beijing for the seventh ASEM summit. Pointing out that “this will be the first time India will be participating in an ASEM summit”, the prime minister said: “Our participation in this summit is a natural corollary of our close and growing ties with countries in Asia and Europe”.

As the ASEM comprises some of the heavyweight economies of the world, the global financial crisis will be one of the major talking points during the meeting of the leaders at the conclave.

Other issues like counter-terrorism, climate change, sustainable development and multilateral trade will also figure in discussions and are likely to be reflected in the statement of the chairman at the end of the summit.

A slew of bilateral meetings has been arranged on the sidelines of the ASEM summit.

Besides meeting (Chinese) President Hu Jintao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Manmohan Singh will meet leaders of Bulgaria, Mongolia and Vietnam.

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