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Modi, Abe back ‘free Indo-Pacific’

Defence ties dominate summit talks

India and Japan outlined a vision for strengthened bilateral relations at the 13th annual summit here on Monday.

Enhanced strategic and defence cooperation dominated the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.

Japan’s formulation of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” received a central place in the vision statement issued at the end of the talks, with both sides stressing their “unwavering commitment to it.” The concept is usually seen as a response to China’s growing dominance in the region.

Speaking to the press after his talks with Mr. Abe, Mr. Modi said the India-Japan bilateral relationship was invested in upholding the rule of law and democratic values.

Tokyo talks stress democratic values

Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that ties with Japan were invested in upholding the rule of law and democratic values.

He was speaking at a press conference after a summit with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.

These are the very catch phrases that underlie the new security architecture that Japan and the United States are trying to put in place to counter China. The vision statement specifically mentioned the willingness of both countries to “expand concrete cooperation with the U.S. and other partners”.

Freedom of navigation

It also referred to the necessity of ensuring the freedom of navigation and the importance of upholding the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), a set of conventions that China has been accused of flouting in the South China Sea.

Mr. Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, further announced the start of negotiations on an Acquisition and Cross-servicing Agreement, a logistics-sharing pact, that would allow Japanese ships to get fuel and servicing at Indian naval bases. Once signed, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force will be able to secure access to Indian naval facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which are strategically located close to the western Malacca Straits, a choke point for much of Japan and China’s trade and fuel imports. A new Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue, termed 2+2, was also announced to supplement an already formidable array of bilateral dialogue mechanisms that include the Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue and the National Security Advisers Dialogue.

On the economic front, the two countries have agreed to a Bilateral Swap Arrangement that would allow their central banks to exchange local currencies for up to $75 billion. This is substantially more than the $30 billion currency swap arrangement announced between China and Japan.

Mr. Abe told the press that 57 Japanese companies had committed to investing 320 billion yen in India, which is expected to create at least 3,000 new jobs. Mr. Modi said that he was convinced that the 21st century could be an Asian century only with a strong India-Japan relationship at its core.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 1:40:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-abe-back-free-indo-pacific/article25364481.ece

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