Zee News, India
India, Japan to work for bilateral free trade pact by 2009
22 March 2007
Tokyo, March 22: India and Japan today agreed to work for a bilateral free trade agreement by early 2009, enhance cooperation between their navies to strengthen maritime security and hold their first ever policy dialogue in the energy sector. Issues relating to free trade, economic and maritime cooperation and Indo-US nuclear deal figured during a series of meetings the visiting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had with Japanese leaders including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mukherjee is on a three-day visit to Tokyo for the first-ever strategic dialogue between India and Japan. As part of the dialogue, he held talks with the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso. Abe during his 35-minute meeting with Mukherjee at his ’Kantei’ office said Japan desired closer cooperation with India citing the common values of freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights that the two countries shared.
Mukherjee told Abe it was important to enhance cooperation between navies of India and Japan to realise maritime security from the viewpoints of energy supply and economic development. The issue of the planned bilateral free trade agreement came up during Mukherjee’s talks with Energy Minister Akira Amari.
Amari was quoted by Kyodo news agency as telling Mukherjee that Japan is seeking to conclude a ’high quality’ economic partnership agreement, with an FTA at its core, at an early date. The two ministers also agreed that energy ministers from the two countries will hold their first policy dialogue in the energy sector in Tokyo next month. The Indo-US nuclear deal, for which Japan is yet to extend support, is understood to have figured in Mukherjee’s talks with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shioza Shioza is reported to have told Mukherjee that Japan is still considering its position regarding the deal.