• Kyodo News


Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Friday he will make a five-day trip to India and Thailand to discuss issues such as a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation pact with New Delhi and a probe into the death of a Japanese cameraman amid violent clashes in Bangkok.

Okada, who left Japan later in the day, is scheduled to hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Saturday and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Monday.

Before his departure, Okada told a news conference in Tokyo that he is also ready to take up bilateral negotiations on concluding a free-trade agreement during his strategic dialogue with Krishna.

Japan and India have been negotiating an FTA since January 2007 and the two countries are expected to reach a basic accord during Singh’s trip to Japan scheduled for later this year, according to sources.

The two countries also launched in late June talks on signing the civilian nuclear pact, which will allow Japan to export its nuclear power generation technology and related equipment to India.

But the move has triggered an outcry from survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because India has developed nuclear arms without signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Okada told the news conference that he will “candidly convey to India the critical public opinion in Japan” regarding the bilateral nuclear cooperation deal and urge New Delhi to make efforts toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

Noting that India and Japan share the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, Okada said he will discuss with Indian ministers how the two countries can cooperate in realizing that aim.

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