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India, Japan agree to take forward defence exchanges

A Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation was signed between the two countries during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Tokyo visit in October last year.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Agreeing to take forward their defence exchanges in a meaningful way, India and Japan on Monday expressed commitment to contribute to bilateral and regional cooperation in areas like ASEAN Regional Forum, peacekeeping and disaster relief.

This was stated in a joint press statement issued at the end of a meeting between Defence Minister A K Antony and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa in Tokyo where they reviewed the existing defence cooperation between the two countries, Defence Ministry officials said here.

Antony's three-day visit is the first by any Indian Cabinet Minister to Tokyo after the new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government took over there.

During the meeting, the two sides condemned terrorism and stressed on the need to enhance cooperation in the fight against the global menace.

Antony and Kitazawa agreed to accelerate discussions to further promote defence exchanges and cooperation through a Defence Action Plan, as envisaged between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in October last year.

Agreeing to develop the Action Plan, the two sides hoped that it would be signed during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama to India for the Annual Summit.

Recognising the need for securing the sea-lines of communications, the two Ministers welcomed the reinforcement of cooperation in the field of maritime security and the inauguration of Japan-India Maritime Security Dialogue, which was held in India last month.

International concerns on piracy off Somalian coast and Gulf of Aden also came up for discussion during the meeting and the two sides expressed their support for efforts against piracy, officials said.

Already, Indian and Japanese navies are coordinating efforts in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden to share the burden of patrolling in the sea brigand-infested waters.

Need for strengthening Service-to-Service exchanges and holding bilateral exercises between Japan Self Defence Forces and the Indian armed forces to enhance cooperation and core ability was stressed by the two Ministers in the meeting.

Defence cooperation between India and Japan is dictated by the Joint Statement issued during then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Tokyo in May 2006 and the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation issued during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit in October last year.

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