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India and Japan today agreed to enhance their defence and strategic cooperation to a new level during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe, who also decided to speed up negotiations on civil nuclear deal that could not be concluded now.
Striking good personal chemistry, the two leaders had "very fruitful" and "meaningful" exchanges after which Abe announced doubling of Japan's private and public investment in India to about USD 35 billion over the next five years.
The talks at Akasaka Palace (State Guest House) came on the third day of Modi's first major bilateral visit outside South Asia. Abe had gone the extra mile in receiving his old friend in Kyoto on Saturday and spent the weekend with him on a tour of two ancient Buddhist temples apart from hosting a banquet.
Significantly, at an interaction with business leaders, Modi deplored the "expansionist" tendencies among countries which "engage in encroachment" and "intrude" into the seas of others, comments seen as a veiled reference to China.
At the summit talks, the two countries decided to elevate their ties to a Special Strategic Global Partnership, emphasising that a developed India and a prosperous Japan was important for Asia and for global peace and security.
"This is not just raising the relationship from one category to another... Our relationship is not only regional in its framework, but will have a global impact," Modi, who is on a five-day visit to Japan, said.
While agreeing on greater defence equipment and technology cooperation, the two sides decided to expedite discussions on modalities for the sale of Japanese US-2 amphibian aircraft.
"The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of defence relations between India and Japan in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them," a joint statement issued after the talks said. On the civil nuclear deal over which there were expectations of it being finalised during the visit, both Modi and Abe said they have directed the officials to accelerate negotiations for early conclusion of a bilateral agreement to strengthen their partnership.
While India is said to be pursuing the deal with Japan on the template of the landmark Indo-US nuclear accord, Tokyo is said to be not that enthusiastic about that being the basis.
The joint statement while making a reference to nuclear ties said, "In recent months, we have made significant progress in our negotiations on civil nuclear cooperation. Today,