PM leaves on two-nation tour

October 21st, 2008 - 10:58 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday left on a two-nation tour that will take him first to Japan and then to China where he will attend the seventh summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).During his trip to Japan, Manmohan Singh will hold talks with the country’s new Prime Minister Taro Aso on the global economic meltdown and cooperation on political and security issues apart from declaring a host of economic agenda including an in-principle agreement of India-Japan comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA).

The two sides may not be able to sign the Free Trade Area (FTA) pact, known in Japan as Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as talks have been bogged down largely on how much to reduce tariffs and what goals to set on investment, said a foreign ministry official.

In the second leg of his five-day visit, the prime minister will be attending the ASEM summit in Beijing Oct 24-25. India has been invited to this meeting for the first time.

Countries that will attend the ASEM summit include China, Japan, South Korea, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, the 10 nations of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Secretariat, the 27 nations of the European Union, and the European Commission. ASEM was founded in 1996.

The summit will focus on expanding dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe on a wide range of global issues from terrorism and security to multilateral trade, climate change and nuclear non-proliferation.

Manmohan Singh will also be holding bilateral talks with China’s President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEM summit.

Singh’s visit to Beijing for the summit comes on the heels of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to the Chinese capital.

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