New Delhi: India and Japan will discuss the implementation of key economic projects and ways to forge closer military linkages during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan next week, senior foreign ministry officials said Friday.
Singh will leave for Japan on Monday and hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters on Friday. The talks, held under an annual summit format, were to be held on 16 December but had to be postponed because of snap elections in Japan.
This will be the first time the two leaders will be meeting after the election victory of Abe, widely regarded as a friend of India. The two leaders met in New Delhi during a visit by Abe in 2006.
The two Prime Ministers will discuss major projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and the infrastructure upgrade in the Chennai-Bangalore corridor, Mathai said.
“The government of Japan is keen to showcase its high-speed rail technology... which they would like us to consider. This is a subject that will be discussed,” Mathai said.
DMIC is aimed at developing new industrial cities as “smart cities”. A final agreement on the project was signed during Abe’s 2006 visit. The 1,483 km-long corridor between Delhi and Mumbai aims to expand India’s manufacturing and services base.
“Japan has already announced $4.5 billion (for DMIC) when Prime Minister (Yoshihiko) Noda visited in 2011. Under this, we have already reached an outline of at least 10 projects under that $4.5 billion dollars,” Mathai said. The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor envisages the construction of a corridor from Dadri, near New Delhi, to Mumbai, passing through Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is being built with the help of Japanese assistance.
During a visit to India last year by Japanese foreign minister Koichiro Gemba, India and Japan agreed to look at the Chennai-Bangalore corridor. Many Japanese companies have their bases near either of the two centres in southern India and the aim is to improve infrastructure along this route, Mathai said.
Energy is another area where the two countries will be looking to increase cooperation with New Delhi set to host an exhibition on energy efficient and clean technologies later this year, Mathai said. Both countries have a regular dialogue on energy and are trying to negotiate a pact on cooperation in civil cooperation.
“Japan has recently made a breakthrough in frozen sea-bed gas hydrates exploitation which is (of) great interest to us,” Mathai said, referring to the possibilities of extracting fuel from frozen methane deposits on the ocean floor.
Both countries are also looking at institutionalizing exercises between the navies of the two countries, Mathai said.
Besides Japan, Singh will also be visiting Thailand on his way back to India on 30-31 May. Thailand is a key partner for India within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said Ashok Kantha, secretary (east) in the ministry of external affairs.