India, Japan hold talks; focus on Indo-Pacific
Ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's India visit, India and Japan are holding their inaugural 2+2 defence and foreign minister-level dialogue on Saturday which would focus on cooperation in building a free and open Indo-Pacific in view of China's growing footprint.
Ahead of the talks, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Taro Kono met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. They would hold talks with their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The dialogue is a major step in taking forward the close bilateral ties.
Japan is only the second country after the US with which India has such a dialogue format.
The idea of holding such a dialogue was initiated during the summit meeting between Modi and Abe in Tokyo in October 2018.
The two sides already have dialogue formats such as the Annual Defense Ministerial Dialogue, Defense Policy Dialogue and the National Security Advisers' Dialogue.
The talks on Saturday will see the two sides speeding up negotiations for the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing agreement, or ACSA, which would allow them to share defence capabilities and supplies, including fuel and ammunition.
The ACSA is expected to be signed during Abe's visit to India next month.
The agreement would help Japan gain access to Indian facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and India could have access to Japan's naval facility in Djibouti.
The talks also come as Japan is reported to have decided not to ratify the China-backed RCEP regional trade pact without India being on board.
"The 2+2 meeting provided an opportunity for the two sides to review the status of and exchange further views on strengthening defence and security cooperation between India and Japan so as to provide greater depth to the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership," a statement said.
The two sides also exchanged views on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and their respective efforts under India's 'Act East Policy' and Japan's 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision' for achieving their shared objective of peace, prosperity and progress to realize a better future for the people of the two countries and the region, it said. -IANS