P. S. Suryanarayana

`Abe-Manmohan summit may agree on suitable formulation'

  • The two countries are now engaged in a "global partnership"
  • `India-U.S. nuclear deal is a good development'

    SINGAPORE: Japan "is very much interested in upgrading its bilateral relations with India" so that the two can work together on the basis of "global partnership" and also "strategic partnership."

    Indicating this, Japanese Foreign Office spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi told The Hindu over phone that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh were likely to agree upon a suitable formulation during their summit in Tokyo in a few days' time. The ideas being discussed ahead of the summit could be summed up in such terminology, he said.

    At present, the two countries are engaged in a "global partnership" with a strategic focus or orientation. Global partnership signifies dialogue on issues of international concern, while a formal strategic partnership will signal a closer overall relationship.

    The two Prime Ministers would also discuss the possibility of launching negotiations for a bilateral economic partnership agreement, Mr. Taniguchi said. Their summit would take place in the emerging context of India's growing "importance and influence for Japanese diplomacy."

    Asked whether Japan, a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, would agree, at the summit, to support India in its quest for atomic energy for civilian use, Mr. Taniguchi said: "I cannot speculate on that. As a general principle, the agreement between the United States and India is a good development. It has brought India into, at least, the international [non-proliferation] regime. The hope is that the agreement would help make the Indian [civil] nuclear regime more transparent and accountable. Japan [for its part] is proud of its track record as a non-nuclear power committed to the non-proliferation regime."

    He emphasised that "Japan hopes India would become a role model" for developing nations. The expectation in this regard was that India, as a power with "nuclear capacity," could remain "very much committed to non-proliferation."

    Maritime security

    Mr. Taniguchi said "it is very much true" that Tokyo was now exploring, on a different plane, the possibility of inviting India to join Japan, the U.S., and Australia for maintaining maritime security through anti-piracy and anti-terror cooperation. However, the new Japanese initiative, while being relevant to the prospective Abe-Singh summit, was still a "fledgling" idea with "no [political] title' to characterise the proposed cooperation. Nor was there any effort to "institutionalise" the initiative at this stage.

    He confirmed that the move was just designed to bring about "cooperation minus the military dimension of the conventional kind."