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India and Japan boost maritime-security ties

Nations to continue regular joint-naval exercises and accelerate talks to import Japanese nuclear reactors to India.

Last Modified: 29 May 2013 19:11
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Singh, left, pictured with Japanese counterpart Abe, said Japan was an 'indispensable partner' [EPA]

Japan and India have agreed to strengthen security co-operation and speed up talks on allowing Japan to export nuclear reactors.

Wednesday's meeting in Tokyo between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh follows Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit last week to India.

New Delhi has been shaken by a recent border argument with China and is cautious about Beijing's friendship with rival Pakistan. Japan has been locked in a territorial dispute with China over a group of East China Sea islets.

"In the political and security area, maritime security cooperation will further be strengthened ... On civil nuclear cooperation, negotiation will be accelerated toward the early conclusion of the agreement," Abe said alongside Singh.

India is pushing ahead with building nuclear reactors despite global concerns over safety.

The country is unable to rely on the coal sector, which is crippled by supply shortages and mired in scandals. Hundreds of millions of Indians still live without power and factories suffer frequent blackouts.

A civil nuclear energy pact with India would give Japanese nuclear technology firms access to India's fast-growing market.

‘Indispensable partners’

India operates 20 mostly small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or two percent of its total power capacity, according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

New Delhi hopes to lift its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 reactors.

Abe and Singh welcomed expanding defence cooperation and decided to hold regular joint naval exercises. The first such exercise was held last June.

Faced with China's maritime expansion, Singh and Abe said they were committed to freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce, and agreed to promote cooperation on maritime issues.

In a separate move, Japan agreed to extend up to $694m in official development assistance for a subway project in Mumbai, India's financial capital.

"Our discussions were guided by the fundamental belief that at the time of global uncertainties, change and challenges, India and Japan are natural and indispensable partners," Singh said.

"We attach particular importance to intensifying political dialogue and strategic consultation and progressively strengthening defence relations."

India has often been nervous about Chinese agreements with its neighbours that are not strictly military but could be leveraged in a conflict.

Such concerns include China's ties with Pakistan, access to a Myanmar naval base, Chinese construction of a deepwater port in Sri Lanka, and its deepening ties with Nepal and the Maldives.

India and Japan also agreed to strengthen cooperation in renewable energy, energy conservation, clean coal technologies and liquefied natural gas.

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Source:
Reuters
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