NEW DELHI: India and Japan will look to further ramp up defense cooperation during the visit of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe this week even as progress in the negotiations for purchase of US 2i surveillance aircraft by India from Tokyo remains in the realm of speculation.
The two countries are also looking to enhance their cooperation on development of infrastructure in India’s north-east.
Without getting into the details of the negotiations, which have been marred by issues related to pricing and transfer of technology, senior MEA officials here said defense cooperation will remain an important area of cooperation for the two countries.
Abe begins his two-day visit on Wednesday during which he and Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan annual Summit in Gujarat capital Gandhinagar.
This will be the fourth annual summit between Modi and Abe.
“The two leaders will review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their special strategic and global partnership and will set its future direction,” MEA said in a statement.
During his visit, Abe will attend the ground breaking ceremony of the Mumbai-Ahemdabad high-speed railway, a flagship programme of the India-Japan collaboration, marking the commencement of the bullet train project.
Apart from attending a business plenary, the two leaders will also take a tour of Dandi Kutir in Gandhinagar, which is India’s largest museum showcasing the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.
Replying to a question on whether work on any project had commenced after the Indo-Japan civil nuclear cooperation deal came into force in July this year, MEA joint secretary (East Asia) said it was for the two sides to start discussions to look at how to take this forward in a manner that contributed to India’s civil nuclear programme.
The nuclear pact, signed in November 2016, is expected to help foreign players build atomic power reactors in India with equipment from Japan.
Responding to a question on Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, Verma said, talks were going on and India was looking at collaboration with Japan in third countries. “This (the talks) is acquiring gradual maturity.” The initiative is not only being discussed between India and Japan, but also with third countries, Verma added. Launched in May this year, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan. Verma said development in north-east India is an area where the two nations have agreed to cooperate.