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Abe, Modi resolve strong Japan-India ties to underpin the regional order

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Thursday condemned North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and called for international efforts to maximize pressure on Pyongyang.

Abe and Modi, who held talks in Gandhinagar, the capital of the western India state of Gujarat, also agreed to promote defense and maritime security cooperation between their countries amid China’s assertive activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a statement released after the summit, their 10th in three years, the two leaders urged North Korea to “abandon nuclear and ballistic missile development and refrain from any provocative act” after it conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 following its launch of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan in late August.

The Japanese and Indian leaders also called on the North to honor U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions and other international agreements.

“Strengthened Japan-India ties are the basis to underpin the regional order,” Abe said at a joint news conference, stressing he will work together with Modi to take the lead toward peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

Abe said he and Modi agreed on the need to “make (North Korea) change its policies.”

The U.N. body on Monday adopted its latest resolution on the North, imposing the first restrictions on exports of crude oil and petroleum products.

Tackling another security challenge facing both countries, Abe and Modi, in a show of unity, reaffirmed the significance of “freedom of navigation at sea, overflight and unobstructed trade based on international law,” apparently in reference to China’s expansionary activities in the South China Sea.

They agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of defense equipment and technology, and to continue bolstering trilateral collaboration, also involving the United States, through joint maritime drills.

In the statement, Abe and Modi said they will continue discussions on the possible export to India of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s US-2 amphibious aircraft for search and rescue purposes. But its high price tag has prevented the two countries from reaching a deal, Japanese officials said.

Although Tokyo had sought to upgrade security talks with New Delhi, which currently involve vice foreign and defense ministers, to a ministerial-level dialogue, Abe and Modi resolved to maintain the current program, Japanese government officials said.

On economics, Abe pledged to provide about ¥190 billion in low-interest loans for a new high-speed railway and other infrastructure projects in India.

Ahead of Thursday’s summit, Abe attended a ceremony to inaugurate a project to build a new high-speed railway in India employing Japanese bullet train technology.

Modi joined Abe at the ceremony for the railway project, which will link India’s financial centers of Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Tokyo hopes India will adopt the Japanese technology for other high-speed railway systems in the country.

The two leaders also hailed a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation agreement that entered into force of in July, enabling Japan to export its nuclear power technology to India. They expressed hope that a new working group will promote cooperation in the sector, according to the statement.

But critics say concerns remain that technology exported to India, which conducted nuclear tests in the past without joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, could be diverted to military use.

With regard to cultural exchanges, Abe pledged to offer support in opening Japanese language courses at 100 higher education facilities in India and training a total of 1,000 Japanese language teachers over the next five years.