• Kyodo


Japan and France will hold talks involving their foreign and defense ministers in France on Jan. 11 to deepen bilateral defense cooperation, the Japanese government said Friday.

The agendas for the fifth “two plus two” meeting between the countries may include maritime security issues amid China’s growing maritime assertiveness.

Previous security talks were held in January this year. Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya and French counterparts Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly will take part in the forthcoming dialogue.

Before heading to France, Kono will travel to India and Nepal, leaving Japan on Jan. 7, to strengthen diplomatic ties with those countries.

In India, Kono will hold talks with Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj to pitch a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” an idea promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government as Japan seeks to counter China’s rising clout in the region.

In Nepal, Kono will exchange views on infrastructure development with Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali.

Iwaya will head directly to France on Jan. 9.

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