Japan, India eye launch of security dialogue involving foreign, defense chiefs

Kyodo

Japan and India are in the final stages of negotiations to establish a consultative framework involving their foreign and defense ministers with the aim of reaching a formal agreement at upcoming summit talks on Sept. 1, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

The launch, if agreed at a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi,in Tokyo, would be the fifth of its kind for Japan under the “two-plus-two” dialogue mechanism, following those with the United States, Australia, Russia and France.

Japan is eager to strengthen security ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific, as China’s influence is growing.

Beijing is now giving support to countries in South Asia, including Sri Lanka, in an apparent bid to expand its reach into the Indian Ocean, and Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India in September.

Tokyo and New Delhi are now making arrangements to upgrade the existing dialogue mechanism on diplomacy and defense, currently at the vice ministerial level. The first such meeting was held in New Delhi in July 2010, and the second in Tokyo in October 2012.

During the summit, Abe and Modi are expected to confirm cooperation in ensuring the safety of sea lanes through exchanges between coast guards, as well as joint drills between the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy, according to the source.

The two countries will also likely step up preparations for Japan to export its US-2 amphibian aircraft, which can be used in search and rescue operations, after Tokyo eased its rules on the sale of defense equipment and the transfer of defense technology in April.

As India is expected to build a train network between Mumbai and Ahmadabad in western India, Abe is expected to pitch Japan’s shinkansen high-speed bullet train technology, the source said.

In another potential area of cooperation, the two leaders will likely discuss accelerating talks toward concluding an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, a prerequisite for Japan to export nuclear reactors to India.

But it remains uncertain whether the two countries can bridge differences over the terms of such an agreement, with Tokyo hoping to specify that it will stop cooperation if New Delhi conducts a nuclear test, the source said.

India has not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, an international pact to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, raising concern in Japan about its push for civilian nuclear cooperation with the country.

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