Tokyo : In what could worry the leadership in Beijing, India and Japan on Monday pledged to develop closer and strategic partnership as Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on the third day of a path-breaking visit that relations with Tokyo were ‘the highest priority for my government’.

The two sides also decided to speed up the negotiations over civil nuclear cooperation, and work on an agreement to collaborate on military technologies. “Today we have taken an important decision to elevate our relationship from strategic and global partnership to a special strategic and global partnership,” Modi said.

“This is not just a play of words, but a decision that reflects the solemn responsibilities of our two governments and two countries,” Modi added. Abe agreed, “We have to fundamentally improve our ties in every field to elevate our relationship into a special strategic partnership.”

Abe said he had fruitful exchange of ideas with Modi, that the two countries had agreed to enhance cooperation in maritime security, and that “security cooperation between India and Japan will deepen further”. Modi welcomed Japan’s commitment to invest $35 bn in India over the next five years, and hailed Tokyo’s decision to end sanctions on Indian entities.

“No country has done more for modernizing India’s infrastructure than Japan,” said Modi, who picked Japan for his first bilateral visit outside the Indian sub-continent after becoming prime minister in May.

India and Japan signed agreements in health, clean energy, women development and roads sector and a pact between Kyoto and Varanasi. Japan agreed to extend technical and financial support to the proposed bullet train project in India.   Monday was another hectic day for Modi, who flew into Kyoto – Japan’s former capital – Saturday, to be received by Abe. He flew to the Japanese capital Sunday. On Monday, Modi called Abe “an old friend” and said his Japanese counterpart had shown ‘special love for India’.

A 3,300-word Tokyo Declaration summed up the new warmth in India-Japan ties, with references to their convergent global interests, a new era of cooperation in military equipment and technology, shared interests in the security of maritime and cyber domains, as well as “closer and stronger strategic partnership”.

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