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India, Japan talks to boost defence relations

A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Signalling ramping up of defence relations with Japan ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tour, IAF Chief PV Naik will embark on a four-day visit to Tokyo on Tuesday, even as a Japanese Army team will be here to plan joint exercises and exchanges for the first time.

"Naik will be on a goodwill visit to Tokyo, basically to build bilateral military ties, while a Japanese Army team will be in Delhi to chalk out programmes aimed at furthering army-to-army contact," Defence Ministry officials said here Monday.

The high-level visit comes ahead of the Prime Minister's planned trip to Japan beginning October 24.

Naik's visit comes three years after then Air Force chief SP Tyagi had gone to Tokyo on a visit. Naik, in his capacity as the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, will be meeting with his Japanese defence forces' Chief of Staff General Kenichiro Hokazono when they would debate regional security issues.

He would also be taking a tour of military installations of Japan and a couple of their training institutes during the visit.

Naik will return to India on October 1. Gen Hokazono is expected to visit Delhi next year for the same purpose as Naik's current visit, officials said.

Japanese army team led by its Director (Policy and Programme) Major General Koichiro Bansho and three other officers will be in Delhi till October 1 when they would be meeting with their Indian Army counterparts in a first-of-its kind effort at drawing up a calendar of joint events.

India has such an arrangement with eight other countries like the US, the UK, Israel, France, Australia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Singapore.

In the four-day discussion, the two sides are expected to share their mutual security concerns and issues and review the bilateral army-to-army relations.

"They will also work out a plan to institutionalise a bilateral calendar of joint exercises, visits and exchanges between the two armies," the officials said.

Defence Minister A K Antony too had visited Japan in November 2009. During that visit, Antony and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa had reviewed the on-going defence related interactions and explored ways to enhance such exchanges for mutual benefit.

Among the issues discussed then were conducting joint exercises between the two armed forces and exchange of students in their respective defence training institutions, and the possibilities of co-ordination of their respective Navy's efforts in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and other maritime security challenges.

Indo-Japanese security and defence co-operation is guided by a joint statement issued by their Defence Ministers in May 2006 and the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation issued during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Japan in October 2008.


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