India and Japan on Monday shared international concerns over piracy off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and decided to strengthen cooperation and information-sharing.

The position was articulated at the end of the comprehensive review of defence cooperation conducted by Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa, in Tokyo, Defence Ministry officials said.

Both sides expressed their determination to take forward the defence exchanges and cooperation. India and Japan have held bilateral and multilateral exchanges such as the Malabar series held in the Bay of Bengal in September 2007 and the eastern sea of Okinawa April this year.

The Ministers vowed to enhance cooperation in the fight against terrorism. In this context, both countries recognised the mutual interest in securing sea lines of communication.

Mr. Antony and Mr. Kitazawa resolved to accelerate bilateral discussions on various measures to further promote defence exchanges and cooperation through a Defence Action Plan, as envisaged by the Prime Ministers of the two countries last year.

The two sides decided to develop the plan, so that it could be formalised during the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to India for the annual summit. The Ministers also hoped that the second meeting of the Defence Policy Dialogue would be held in India at the earliest.

New Delhi and Tokyo expressed their commitment to contribute to bilateral and regional cooperation, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, in peace-keeping and disaster relief.

Both sides reiterated the importance of strengthening service-to-service exchanges such as Staff Talks. They also discussed bilateral exercises between the Japan Self Defence Forces and the Indian Armed Forces to enhance cooperation and core ability for maritime security operations and disaster relief.

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