• Kyodo

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Japan and the U.K. have agreed to commence negotiations on an agreement that would enhance interoperability and collaboration between the armed forces of both countries, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a news conference Tuesday.

The talks on a Japan-U.K. Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) come amid efforts to counter China’s growing military influence in Asia, with the first round of negotiations set to be held on Oct. 7.

The Japanese government is aiming to conclude a similar agreement with Australia after agreeing in principle on a status of forces pact during bilateral talks in November last year.

An RAA is a legal framework that seeks to simplify procedures, such as bringing in weapons, for a country’s armed forces to engage in joint training in a partner country. If concluded, it will expand the scope of defense cooperation by also facilitating the flow of troops.

“We believe (the agreement) will contribute to further strengthening cooperation between our two countries as we work toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Motegi said.

In formal talks in August 2017, the leaders of Japan and the U.K. announced a set of joint statements pledging cooperation on security. Both countries have been working to conclude an agreement based on that pledge.

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