TOKYO: India and Japan today decided to “upgrade” and “strengthen” their defence cooperation as they asked officials to launch consultations to promote military equipment collaboration and accelerate discussions on modalities for the sale of Japanese US-2 amphibian aircraft.

The decision to firm-up defence ties came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held summit-level talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe here.

“The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of defence relations between India and Japan in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them,” a joint statement issued after the talks said.

The two sides signed a Memorandum of Cooperation and Exchanges in the Field of Defence during Prime Minister Modi’s five-day visit.

“We intend to give a new thrust and direction to our defence cooperation, including collaboration in defence technology and equipment, given our shared interest in peace and stability and maritime security. We have also decided to expand our cooperation in advanced technology, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges, educational exchanges, etc,” Modi said at the joint press briefing with Abe.

The two sides stressed on the importance of the regularisation of bilateral maritime exercises as well as on Japan’s continued participation in India-US Malabar series of exercises.

Prime Minister Modi welcomed the recent developments in Japan’s policy on transfer of defence equipment and technology.

“The two Prime Ministers expressed hope that this would usher in a new era of cooperation in defence equipment and technology. They recognised the enormous future potential for transfer and collaborative projects in defence equipment and technology between the two countries,” the statement said.

India and Japan directed their officials to launch working-level consultations between the two countries with a view to promoting defence equipment and technology cooperation.

The two sides also decided to accelerate their discussions in the Joint Working Group on cooperation in US-2 amphibian aircraft and its technology.

India and Japan recognised their wide-ranging shared interests in security of maritime and cyber domains, and decided to work with each other and with like-minded partners to preserve the integrity and inviolability of these global commons.

“They affirmed their shared commitment to maritime security, freedom of navigation and overflight, civil aviation safety, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law,” the statement said.

The two sides welcomed the existing dialogue mechanism and joint exercises between Indian and Japanese Coast Guards.

In order to firm up defence ties, Modi and Abe decided to continue the practice of annual summits and to meet as often as possible on the margins of regional and multilateral meetings.

The two Prime Ministers decided to “intensify” and “invigorate” multi-sectoral ministerial and Cabinet-level dialogues, in particular, those between their Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers and Ministers dealing with finance, economy, trade and energy.

“Recognising the special quality of bilateral engagement between India and Japan imparted by multi-sectoral ministerial and Cabinet-level dialogues, in particular, those between their Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers and Ministers dealing with finance, economy, trade and energy, the two Prime Ministers decided to intensify and invigorate such exchanges,” the statement said.

In this regard, they welcomed that the next rounds of Foreign Ministers Strategic Dialogue and Defence Ministers dialogue would be held later this year.

The two leaders attached importance to the dialogue between their National Security Advisors, launched earlier this year soon after the creation of the National Security Secretariat in Japan, as a key instrument of building deeper mutual understanding and cooperation across the full range of security issues.

They also underlined the importance of the 2 plus 2 dialogue, involving Foreign and Defence Secretaries, for their growing strategic partnership, and decided to seek ways to intensify this dialogue.
source:The Economic Times