PM Modi, Japanese PM vow to strengthen cooperation in Indo-Pacific

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Suga Yoshihide held a telephonic conversation on Tuesday during which they discussed deepening collaboration bilaterally as well as under the Quad framework to enhance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the positive momentum in India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership in the last few years, guided by mutual trust and shared values, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). "Had a fruitful conversation with PM Suga Yoshihide on the progress of India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership," Modi tweeted after the telephonic talks.

"We exchanged views on contemporary global challenges and agreed to further enhance our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region," he said.

The Japanese govt, in a read-out of the telephonic talks, said the two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation and in this context, Suga expressed serious concerns regarding "unilateral attempts" to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea, in a clear reference to China's expansionist behaviour.

The Japanese foreign ministry said the two leaders "confirmed that they have grave concerns over the situation in Myanmar.

"The two leaders also exchanged views on the regional situation. In this context, Prime Minister Suga expressed serious concerns regarding unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea, China's Coast Guard Law and the situation in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)," according to the read-out.

The PMO, meanwhile, said Modi and Suga exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest and concurred that the partnership between the two countries could play a pivotal role in addressing common challenges.

In this regard, they emphasized that their engagement with like-minded countries such as Australia and the US in the form of Quad consultations holds value and agreed that these useful discussions must continue, it said. The Quad comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.

The Japanese government's statement said the two leaders shared the recognition that cooperation towards realising a free and open Indo-Pacific is becoming increasingly important and to this end, shared the view to steadily advance both Japan-India bilateral cooperation and Japan-Australia-India-US quadrilateral cooperation.

The PMO said the two leaders appreciated that bilateral exchanges were maintained over the last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. They also welcomed the recent signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation on Specified Skilled Workers (SSW) and looked forward to its early implementation.

During the conversation, Prime Minister Modi noted the Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project was a shining example of India-Japan bilateral strategic partnership and expressed his commitment to its successful implementation, the PMO said.

The two leaders noted that the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries would fall in 2022 and agreed that this event be celebrated in a befitting manner, it said.

Prime Minister Modi also invited Suga to visit India at the earliest for the Annual Bilateral Summit.

The Japanese statement said that in their nearly 40-minute conversation Modi and Suga concurred that they would continue their effort to materialise the Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership through cooperation in areas such as security and defence, economic relationship including digital fields, and people-to-people exchanges.

Prime Minister Suga also asked for understanding and cooperation toward the early resolution of the abductions issue by North Korea, the Japanese side said.

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Free Press Journal