New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves on Monday on a three-day visit to Japan to give a fresh impetus to strategic partnership and push for early conclusion of a bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.
Singh will hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on a wide spectrum of issues of mutual interest and discuss ways to bolster strategic and global partnership between the two countries, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said.
Asked about the civil nuclear cooperation agreement negotiations for which have not made much headway since Japan was struck by Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, 2011, he said, "Agreements always take a certain amount of time. Discussions have given some impetus recently."
Indicating that several issues still need to be worked out, he said, "There are a number of stages we have to go through before we reach the signature. I can`t put a date on it. We would certainly like to conclude this."
"We hope to make by the end of this year more progress in this field," he said in response to questions.
Japanese officials have affirmed that Tokyo is committed to the nuclear cooperation pact notwithstanding its strong concerns over nuclear safety.
While Japan has backed the Indo-US nuclear deal and the exemptions given to India from international technology sanctions, successive governments in Tokyo have found the going tough in garnering political support for it in the face of stiff opposition from the non-proliferation lobby in that country.
Singh will be accompanied by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and senior officials.
On his way back from Tokyo, Singh will visit Bangkok on May 30-31 aimed at elevating bilateral relations into a "strategic partnership" but the long-awaited Free Trade Agreement is unlikely to be inked with some sticky issues still to be sorted out.