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India and Japan today decided to enhance their already close defence and security partnership besides going for joint-development of military platforms and equipment, in reflection of growing congruence in ties in the strategic spheres.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, during annual summit talks, reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral defence ties including the long-pending issue of supply of the US-2 amphibious aircraft by Japan to India.
"Japan's readiness to provide its state-of-the-art US-2 amphibian aircraft was appreciated as symbolising the high degree of trust between the two countries. The two governments decided to continue their discussions in this regard," a joint statement issued after the talks said.
Last year, China had reacted angrily to reports that Japan plans to sell weapons to India at cheaper prices, saying that such a move was disgraceful.
The resolve by the two sides to deepen their defence and security cooperation comes in the backdrop of escalating tension in the region following the nuclear test by North Korea and China's combative posturing in the resource-rich South China Sea.
The joint statement said the two prime ministers pledged to bolster defence and security ties apart from ramping up cooperation in production of defence equipment such as surveillance and unmanned system technologies.
The two countries also resolved to further deepen cooperation in carrying out Malabar naval exercise as well as in other joint military drills. The possibility of joint field exercises between Indian Army and Japan's Ground Self-Defence Force in 2018, and reciprocal visits by air assets to each other's country was also explored.
The annual Malabar exercise involving India, the US and Japan had taken place in Bay of Bengal in July whose aim was to achieve deeper military ties and greater interoperability among the three navies in the strategically-important Indo- Pacific region.
"The two Prime Ministers commended the significant progress achieved in maritime security cooperation evidenced by the expansion in scale and complexity of the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal in July.
"They noted the ongoing close cooperation between the Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force in various specialised areas of mutual interest, including anti-submarine aspects," the joint statement said.
It said Modi and Abe also noted recent progress in bilateral cooperation on defence equipment and technology, including the commencement of the technical discussion for the future research collaboration in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotic.
The two prime ministers also emphasised the significance of defence and security cooperation in enhancing the overall strategic partnership while favouring stepping up anti-terror cooperation.
In this context, they welcomed the institutionalised engagement through the annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue, the National Security Advisers' dialogue, the "2+2" dialogue, the Defence Policy Dialogue and Service-to-Service staff talks.
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