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Ties with Japan most important: PM

delhi Updated: Oct 21, 2008 11:28 IST

IANS
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who left for Tokyo on Monday, described the relationship between India and Japan as "one of the most important bilateral relationships we have". After two days in Tokyo, he will go to Beijing to attend the seventh summit of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).

In a statement before his departure, Manmohan Singh said: "I consider our bilateral relations with Japan to be one of the most important bilateral relationships we have. India and Japan are two major countries in Asia, sharing many similar interests and subscribing to common values.

"A strong India-Japan relationship will play a significant role in the emerging Asian security architecture and will contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of Asia and the world."

Manmohan Singh will meet Japan's new Premier Taro Aso for the annual meeting of the two prime ministers. Describing Aso as a "close friend of India", Manmohan Singh said: "We will review the progress that has been achieved in our bilateral ties over the last one year and set the agenda for the next year."

"Even though over the last four years there has been significant progress in all aspects of our bilateral relationship, there is still a lot of untapped potential that remains to be realised."

The second meeting of the India-Japan Business Leaders Forum will be held on the sidelines of the Indian prime minister's visit. Manmohan Singh said: "I look forward to addressing a gathering of Japan's business leaders being organised by the Nippon Keidanren."

After Japan, Manmohan Singh will travel to Beijing for the seventh ASEM summit. Pointing out that "this will be the first time India will be participating in an ASEM summit", the prime minister said: "Our participation in this summit is a natural corollary of our close and growing ties with countries in Asia and Europe".

Manmohan Singh added: "On the margins of the ASEM summit, in addition to meeting (Chinese) President Hu Jintao, I will have the opportunity to meet with other world leaders, including President Purvanov of Bulgaria, President Enkhbayar of Mongolia, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy and Prime Minister Nguyan Tan Dung of Vietnam.”