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Japan's guarded, positive response on nuclear issue

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at the official residence of Abe, during the signing of agreements in Tokyo on Friday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at the official residence of Abe, during the signing of agreements in Tokyo on Friday.

K. Venugopal

Tokyo will be actively involved in the discussions at the NSG

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    Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded in a guarded yet positive way on questions about his country's support for India's civil nuclear energy programme.

    "Japan will be actively involved in the discussions at the Nuclear Suppliers' Group," he told journalists after releasing the joint statement at the end of discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Friday.

    Mr. Abe said he had heard from Dr. Singh that nuclear power was a necessity in India given the fact that there was an increasing demand for energy. Dr. Singh had also assured him that the appropriate safeguards would be taken.

    He pointed out to Dr. Singh that Japan was the only country that had been a victim of the nuclear bomb, and as such had sensitivities on the subject. "Therefore, India should respond to the concerns of the international community and work out appropriate safeguards with the IAEA," he told the media.

    The joint statement that picked up from Dr. Singh's suggestion during his address to the Diet on Thursday noted that "international civil nuclear cooperation should be enhanced through constructive approaches under appropriate IAEA safeguards."

    Joint economic partnership initiative

    India and Japan on Friday announced a Special Economic Partnership Initiative meant to help improve India's infrastructure and manufacturing capacity, and thereby quicken the pace of Japanese investments in India.

    To speed up things

    With the negotiations for the broader Economic Partnership Agreement expected to take two years, the two countries decided to speed up things on specific aspects that were seen to be holding Japanese companies from investing wholeheartedly in India.

    The announcement came in a Joint Statement after Dr. Singh and Mr. Abe completed their discussions that centred on reviving bilateral trade and investments, which had gone into a somnolent phase.

    The keenness of the Japanese side was evident in a remark Mr. Abe made the previous evening at the inauguration of the Japan India Friendship year 2007: "This will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world."

    He said the relations were being elevated to a strategic and global level, which would involve closer political and diplomatic coordination on bilateral, regional, multilateral and global issues.

    The Joint Statement noted that there would be coordination between the two countries for reform of the United Nations, "including the expansion of the U.N. Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories."

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