1:00 pm - Sunday November 8, 2015

India, Japan for upgrading trilateral talks with U.S.

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India and Japan will explore with the United States the possibility of raising their joint secretary-level trilateral dialogue to the level of foreign ministers, even as a bilateral accord on civil nuclear cooperation has failed to materialise.

In a significant regional signal, a joint declaration issued after talks between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe on Monday said, “They [the three countries] will also explore the possibility of expanding… their consultations to other countries in the region.”

It may be recalled that a previous official-level quadrilateral dialogue in 2007 [also proposed by Mr. Abe] that involved Australia drew a sharp response from Beijing and was quickly abandoned.

On a possible civil nuclear deal, both Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe, who held detailed discussions, directed their officials to expedite their negotiations and bring them to a conclusion. “We have reached better understanding of each other’s positions through this discussion. We have agreed to instruct our negotiators to work expeditiously to conclude the negotiations at an early date so that we can further strengthen our strategic partnership,” Mr. Modi told the press.

Japan has major domestic concerns on nuclear issues, especially after the Fukushima disaster, and Indian officials had previously indicated that an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was unlikely in the current trip.

Mr. Modi also emphasised that Japan and India were also the two oldest democracies in Asia and among its three biggest economies.

“Our relationship is not only regional in its framework, but will have a global impact,” he said.

 

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