Emperor of Japan has identified India as destination of one of his rare visits abroad

India held its first post-Fukushima talks on civil nuclear accord with Japan on Tuesday with both sides deciding to intensify negotiations to reach an early settlement.

The talks in Tokyo were held in a conducive political environment following the election of a pro-India government and the announcement that the Emperor of Japan has identified India as the destination for one of his rare visits abroad.

The meeting, which took place after three years, is officially the fourth round of talks but the two sides have touched base informally on several occasions as well.

Japan wants additional commitments from India as it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but New Delhi maintains that commitments given while signing civil nuclear agreements with the U.S., France and Russia stood good enough for Japan as well.

New Delhi also draws attention to a letter written by the then Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in September 2008 to the Nuclear Suppliers Group assuring the world community of India’s commitment to a moratorium on nuclear tests, cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Additional Protocol and the separation plan for civilian and strategic use reactors.

A civil nuclear agreement is crucial for the industries of France, the U.S. and Japan. For, Japanese companies can supply some critical components to Westinghouse of the U.S. and Areva of France for their civil nuclear plants in India only after an India-Japan civil nuclear agreement is signed.

Government sources see India-Japan ties taking on a smoother trajectory after the recent developments, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh naming the former Union Minister, Ashwani Kumar, as his Special Envoy to Japan to maintain the momentum of high-level visits and Tokyo making an exception for India by bending its strict laws barring export of defence items.

The talks have the backing of the two Prime Ministers when they met in Tokyo earlier this year and decided to ask their officials to “accelerate the negotiations of an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy towards an early conclusion.”

The Indian side included senior Foreign Office officials Gautam Bambawale and Bala Venkatesh Varma.

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