India and Japan on Monday renewed their commitment to “develop an Action Plan … to advance security cooperation.”

An accord on these lines formed the centrepiece of a joint press statement issued by Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa, after their talks in Tokyo.

Authoritative sources told The Hindu that the two countries were keen on finalising the action plan in time for the planned visit to India soon by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. The idea was first agreed upon during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan last year.

Under the current framework of defence-related cooperation, Mr. Kitazawa and Mr. Antony “expressed their determination to take forward bilateral defence exchanges and cooperation in a meaningful way in 2010.” They “condemned terrorist activities and shared [a sense of] determination to enhance cooperation in the fight against terrorism.”

Maritime security was identified as a key concern of both countries. They expressed a “common interest in the safety of sea lines of communications” and “welcomed the recent reinforcement of cooperation” in this domain. The two Ministers expressed support for the international anti-piracy drive, especially off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. But no specifics were spelt out.

The other areas cited for bilateral and multilateral cooperation were peace-keeping, peace-building and disaster relief.

Mr. Antony and Mr. Kitazawa welcomed the participation of the two countries in the Malabar series of naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal in 2007 and off Okinawa in April this year. The Malabar series also involves the United States.

On the current practice of holding Japan-India bilateral talks and exercises, the two Ministers noted that the objective was to “enhance cooperation and core ability for maritime security operation and disaster relief.”

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