India-Japan strategic talks to have nuke on agenda

India and Japan will hold the fourth strategic dialogue on Saturday when Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada arrives here, during which the two sides will discuss a wide gamut of issues, including civil nuclear cooperation.

New Delhi: India and Japan will hold the
fourth strategic dialogue tomorrow when Japanese Foreign
Minister Katsuya Okada arrives here, during which the two
sides will discuss a wide gamut of issues, including civil
nuclear cooperation and ways to enhance bilateral trade ties.

Okada will have delegation-level talks with External
Affairs Minister S M Krishna during which they will review the
status of the relationship between the two countries which had
held nuclear negotiations in June this year.
Rejecting the reports that the recent declaration made by
Mayor of Nagasaki criticising the Japanese government for
launching nuclear cooperation talks with India will have any
negative impact, Secretary (East Asia) in MEA, Gautam
Bambawale said though there was no timeline for the pact, the
next round of talks will be held "sooner rather than later".

He said India was aware of the sensitivities reflected in
some viewpoints expressed in that country and it was
appreciative of those viewpoints but it was up to the
government of Japan to take care of such issues.

"The two sides have decided to work towards a good
working pact in the area, creating a win-win situation for
both the countries. And there is no timeline to it," he said.

Before his departure from Tokyo, Okada told a press
conference that he will discuss with the Indian leadership
issues such as bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation pact and
a free trade agreement, negotiations for which are on.

Okada also said that he will "candidly convey to India
critical public opinions in Japan" regarding the bilateral
nuclear cooperation deal and urge New Delhi to make efforts
toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

The minister said Japan and India will need to discuss
what to do if India conducts a nuclear test in their future
civilian nuclear pact negotiations.

Asked about the same, Bambawale said he will not like to
discuss the issue in the public domain or through media. India
will respond if the Japanese side raised it during the talks.

An accord will allow top Japanese companies, including
Hitachi and Toshiba, to sell atomic power equipment to the
growing Indian market now estimated to be of USD 150 billion.

Besides civil nuclear cooperation, the two sides will
also discuss economic ties, situation in Pakistan and
Afghanistan, reforms in the UN and expansion of its Security
Council. Okada is also expected to raise the situation in
North Korea which does not have diplomatic ties with Japan.
The visit is also aimed at firming up the agenda for
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s trip to Tokyo later this year
during which he will have a meeting with Japanese Prime
Minister Naoto Kan. Okada, who will be here on a two-day
official visit, will also call on Singh.

India and Japan are also involved in the negotiations for
a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Japan
is the sixth largest investor in India.

The pact is expected to slash tariff duties on around
9,000 products, ranging from steel and apparel to drugs and
machinery, and give a big boost to bilateral trade which was
estimated to be around USD 12 billion in 2008-09.

The two sides are also involved in high-tech trade after
Japan removed 11 Indian companies from the list of end-users
and added four new ones recently, generating a positive
momentum in bilateral ties.

Tomorrow`s meeting is first ministerial meeting after
2+2 (security and strategic) dialogue here on July 6 during
which the two countries discussed issues ranging from
counter-terrorism to the UN reforms.


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