Sydney: Japan wants India to join its security talks with Australia and the United States, a Japanese government official said, and insisted the dialogue was not meant to isolate China.
US President George W. Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe are to meet on 8 September over breakfast for talks set to focus on security issues including North Korea and China.
It will be the first time their nations’ security dialogue has been at the level of leaders, a step-up that has irked Beijing.
But while backing plans to hold the trilateral summit regularly, Tokyo is also urging its allies to let India join, said Mitsuo Sakaba, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura.
“India shares common interests -- liberalism and democracy -- with us,” he told AFP, and all four countries should now get together to discuss regional situations and what we can cooperate.
“If we can hold such a forum regularly, it will contribute to peace and stability of the region,” he added.
Abe, during a visit last month to India, had already spoken of creating an “arc of freedom and prosperity” grouping the four nations.
Saturday’s three-way talks are being held on the margins of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Sydney gathering 21 Pacific rim leaders.
Sakaba sought to reassure Beijing the move was not provocative.
“The trilateral talks are not directed at any specific countries,” Sakaba said.
“Although we have not received any official protest from China we are ready to explain about our stance to the Chinese side,” he said.
“The talks are just another step forward (toward) achieving stability and prosperity in the region.”
Besides the issue of regional security, climate change is likely to be high on the agenda, Sakaba said.
APEC members remained deadlocked over a common statement on climate change to be issued by their leaders at the end of a weekend summit.
Howard and Abe are expected to announce measures to cement their security cooperation, including peacekeeping operations, natural disaster measures and border security, another Japanese government official said.
Japan and Australia are close US allies which supported the Iraq invasion, and the two nations signed a security pact in March.
It was Tokyo’s first such agreement with any country besides its main ally, the United States.