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India-Japan strategic dialogue tomorrow, nuke issue on agenda

Source: PTI
August 20, 2010 18:20 IST
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India and Japan will hold the fourth strategic dialogue on Saturday when Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada arrives in New Delhi, during which the two sides will discuss a wide gamut of issues, including civil nuclear cooperation and ways to enhance bilateral trade ties.

Okada will have delegation-level talks with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna during which they will review the status of the relationship between the two countries which had held nuclear negotiations in June this year. Rejecting the reports that the recent declaration made by Mayor of Nagasaki criticising the Japanese government for launching nuclear cooperation talks with India will have any negative impact, Secretary (East Asia) in the ministry of external affairs, Gautam Bambawale said though there was no timeline for the pact, the next round of talks will be held "sooner rather than later". He said India was aware of the sensitivities reflected in some viewpoints expressed in that country and it was appreciative of those viewpoints but it was up to the government of Japan to take care of such issues. "The two sides have decided to work towards a good working pact in the area, creating a win-win situation for both the countries. And there is no timeline to it," he said.

Before his departure from Tokyo, Okada told a press conference that he will discuss with the Indian leadership issues such as bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation pact and a free trade agreement, negotiations for which are on. Okada also said that he will "candidly convey to India critical public opinion in Japan" regarding the bilateral nuclear cooperation deal and urge New Delhi to make efforts toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. The minister said Japan and India will need to discuss what to do if India conducts a nuclear test in their future civilian nuclear pact negotiations. Asked about the same, Bambawale said he will not like to discuss the issue in the public domain or through media. India will respond if the Japanese side raised it during the talks.

An accord will allow top Japanese companies, including Hitachi and Toshiba, to sell atomic power equipment to the growing Indian market now estimated to be of US $ 150 billion. Besides civil nuclear cooperation, the two sides will also discuss economic ties, situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan, reforms in the UN and expansion of its Security Council. Okada is also expected to raise the situation in North Korea which does not have diplomatic ties with Japan. The visit is also aimed at firming up the agenda for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Tokyo later this year during which he will have a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Okada, who will be here on a two-day official visit, will also call on Singh.

India and Japan are also involved in the negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Japan is the sixth largest investor in India. The two sides are also involved in high-tech trade after Japan removed 11 Indian companies from the list of end-users and added four new ones recently, generating a positive momentum in bilateral ties.

Saturday's meeting is first ministerial meeting after
2+2 (security and strategic) dialogue here on July 6 during which the two countries discussed issues ranging from counter-terrorism to the UN reforms.

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