India and Japan today discussedways to enhance defence, security and economic cooperation during the "comprehensive" summit meeting between Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who also announced a loan of $2 billion for Delhi Metro.
The two leaders held extensive talks on bilateral, regional and global issues after which Abe, at a joint media event said, Indo-Japan strategic and global partnership has the "largest potential" than any other bilateral relationship in the world.
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During the visit of Abe, who is the chief guest at 65th Republic Day parade tomorrow, the two countries also inked as many as eight agreements including for promoting tourism, enhancing energy efficiency in telecom towers and for power generation in India.
"We noted with satisfaction the growing frequency of our political engagement and our expanding defence and security cooperation. Our bilateral maritime exercises have now been established on an annual basis and we have welcomed Japan's participation in the Malabar exercise this year," Singh said.
Terming Japan as a "key partner" in economic development, Singh observed "the partnership between a strong and economically resurgent Japan and a transforming and rapidly growing India can be an effective force of good for the region" and said he has sought more Japanese investments in the country.
Coming against the backdrop of tensions between Japan and China over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, Abe's India visit and its outcome is also expected to be keenly watched by the Chinese government.
At the joint media event, Singh said, "Our negotiations towards an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy have gained momentum in the last few months.
Our Joint Working Group on US-2 amphibian aircraft has met to explore the modalities of cooperation on its use and co- production in India.
"More broadly, we are working towards increasing our cooperation in the area of advanced technologies. I reviewed with Prime Minister Abe the current status of these transformative projects and shared my expectations with him."
Singh noted that Japan was a privileged partner in India's most ambitious projects for world class infrastructure, which the government has launched in recent years - the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, IIT Hyderabad and the planned Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor.
Taking stock of these flagship projects "I apprised Abe of the steps we have taken to facilitate Japan's association with India's growth story in general and these projects in particular. In these projects and in many others, Japan's Overseas Development Assistance has played a transformative role, for which I expressed our gratitude", he said.
Observing that there has been growth of 16 per cent in the Japanese companies last year, Singh said they explored ideas for concrete cooperation in manufacturing and R&D in the electronics sector as well as in energy-efficient and energy- saving technologies. The two leaders also decided to encourage people-to-people movement by fast-tracking implementation of the Social Security Agreement that was signed over a year ago while noting that tourism flow and civil aviation links between the two countries have increased considerably.
"I also requested his support for conclusion of pending legal instruments for our law enforcement cooperation, like transfer of sentenced persons and mutual legal assistance on criminal matters," Singh said. Abe also hoped that "there will be further deepening in political and security cooperation". Singh said that they have agreed to continue the efforts for reform of the United Nations Security Council within the G-4 framework and to work for global growth and prosperity through the Group of 20. "Prime Minister Abe's visit to India as Chief Guest for our Republic Day has reinforced our strategic partnership and added substance to our relations. That he has chosen to do so on the eve of an important parliamentary session in Japan only goes to show his commitment to this relationship," Singh added.
Later a joint statement said the two prime ministers expressed satisfaction with the holding of the first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the US-2 amphibian aircraft in December 2013 in Delhi and welcomed the second meeting of the JWG which is scheduled for March in Japan. "The two Prime Ministers stressed the importance of continued efforts to revise the Memorandum on Simplifying Visa Procedures between India and Japan which would further enhance people-to-people exchanges in business area," it said.
Prime Minister Singh appreciated Japan's high level of expertise and technology of High Speed Railway (Shinkansen) system and noted Japan's interest in introducing that system in India and conveyed that the government will plan such projects based on its infrastructure priorities, commercial viability and financial resources. Welcoming the commencement of the joint feasibility study and the issuance of the inception report of the High Speed Railway system on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, the two leaders agreed that the joint feasibility study should be completed by July 2015, the statement said.