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India, Japan to hold strategic talks, n-deal on agenda

New Delhi, July 5 (Calcutta Tube) Days after the first round of pathbreaking civil nuclear negotiations in Tokyo, India and Japan will Tuesday hold their maiden dialogue of senior officials to enhance strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Christened the ‘2+2 dialogue’ of sub-cabinet/senior officials, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar will hold talks with Japan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae and Vice Minister for Defence Kimito Nakae on a wide range of strategic and defence issues.

The 2+2 dialogue was announced during then Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama’s visit to India in December 2009. Besides India, Japan has such a dialogue framework with only the US and Australia, bringing to the fore the growing importance of New Delhi in Tokyo’s strategic calculus.

The two sides are looking at expanding cooperation in counter-terrorism and maritime security to give more strategic heft to the relationship, said reliable sources.

The two countries will also hold their foreign office consultations that will focus on the larger strategic canvas of their relationship and includes an exchange of views on a wide array of regional and international issues.

The prospects of civil nuclear cooperation, following the first round of negotiations a week ago in Tokyo, will also be on the table, said the sources.

The two-day talks between officials last week on the civil nuclear cooperation were widely hailed as a breakthrough as it marked a major softening on part of Japan, the only country to have been attacked by nuclear weapons, that is opposed to doing atomic business with a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Japan had supported consensus for India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008, albeit reluctantly. However, with India signing bilateral nuclear pacts with nine countries, including the US, Russia, France and Canada, Japanese companies now don’t want to miss a share of the growing nuclear business emanating from India.

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