PM to visit Japan for nuclear talks

PM to visit Japan for nuclear talks

Tokyo: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Japan this month for talks on nuclear energy cooperation and a free-trade deal as the two countries expand ties, an official said Friday.

Singh will meet with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso and have an audience with Emperor Akihito during his 21-23 October visit, a Japanese foreign ministry statement said.

Aso, a former foreign minister who became Prime Minister last week, is a strong supporter of cementing Japan’s relationship with fellow democracy India, partly to balance Tokyo’s often uneasy ties with China.

Singh is expected to discuss nuclear energy issues in Japan, which reluctantly backed a nuclear technology deal between India and the US despite New Delhi’s refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Japan has a major nuclear power industry but strongly opposes nuclear weapons - a legacy of falling victim to the world’s only atomic attacks.

Singh and Aso are also set to discuss efforts to forge a free-trade deal. Tokyo announced that Japanese and Indian negotiators would hold a 10th round of talks starting Monday in the capital.

The two countries missed a deadline to reach an outline of the deal by mid-2008 as they struggled to reach an agreement on tariff reductions and investment goals.

Singh also travelled this week to France to sign another atomic energy deal, part of India’s efforts to make up for a critical power shortage holding back its booming economy.