Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday expressed confidence that India will soon conclude a civil nuclear deal with Japan that will allow Tokyo to export nuclear reactors to the country.

“There have been discussions with Japan and this visit marked a formal move in that direction. I am hopeful that before long we will be able to put our signatures to a civil nuclear energy agreement with Japan as well,” Dr Singh told reporters on his way back from Japan and Thailand.

A joint statement issued at the end of exhaustive talks between Dr Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe this week had said the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries, while recognising that nuclear safety is a priority for both governments.

“In this context, they directed their officials to accelerate the negotiations of an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy towards an early conclusion,” the statement had said.

Negotiations for the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement have not made much headway since Japan was struck by Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, 2011.

Answering questions on progress made so far in India’s Look East policy, Dr Singh said, “I am hopeful that Look East policy of India is paying rich dividends and the results are going to improve as we move forward.”

“The Look East policy of the Government of India is not a new development. When Mr Narsimha Rao was our Prime Minister, and I was the Finance Minister, we charted out a course of action to get closer to South East Asian countries particularly ASEAN,” the Prime Minister said.

During Dr. Singh’s visit, India and Japan signed the Exchange of Notes for yen loan totalling $424 billion. This includes $71 billion for the Mumbai Metro Line-III project as well as the yen loan of the fiscal year 2012 for $353.106 billion for eight projects.

“ASEAN countries are our strategic partners and there are enormous opportunities of expanding trade ties, investment relations, expanding maritime cooperation, expanding the scope of trade and investment, and now we have reached a stage where large scale flow of trade and investment is becoming a reality,” he said.