India's Modi meets Japanese ministers ahead of summit with Abe
TOKYO, Kyodo - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the Japanese industry and foreign ministers on Monday, ahead of a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at which the two leaders will discuss ways to foster security and economic cooperation.
Modi, who arrived in Japan on Saturday for a three-day visit, met separately with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko and Foreign Minister Taro Kono in the morning.
"We hope to further deepen the bilateral relationship," Kono said at the outset of his meeting with Modi in explaining that he has maintained close communication with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
During the summit in Tokyo, Abe and Modi will likely agree to continue working toward the realization of a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region, an initiative advocated by the Japanese prime minister to develop high-quality infrastructure from Asia to Africa while promoting universal principles such as freedom of navigation and the rule of law.
The 12th one-to-one meeting between Abe and Modi comes after Abe held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday in Beijing, in the first official visit to the country by a Japanese prime minister in nearly seven years.
Sino-Japanese relations have improved in recent months following years of tensions over territorial and wartime issues combined with regional rivalry.
But as Japan remains cautious about China's military expansion and maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas, it is seeking to bolster security cooperation with India along with the United States and Australia.
Abe and Modi are expected to discuss an envisioned acquisition and cross-servicing agreement, known as ACSA, enabling the two countries' troops to share defense
supplies such as fuel and ammunition and a plan to upgrade "two-plus-two" diplomatic and security talks to the ministerial level from vice ministerial level, Japanese officials said.
Abe is also likely to pledge the provision of low-interest loans worth more than 300 billion yen ($2.68 billion), including ones to help a high-speed railway project employing Japan's shinkansen technology between Mumbai-Ahmedabad in western India, Japanese Foreign Ministry sources said.
As part of efforts to help facilitate flows of people and goods, the two leaders are expected to confirm cooperation in building infrastructure in India's less-developed northeastern states neighboring Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Japan believes it is important to carry out "quality infrastructure" projects in accordance with international standards that are sufficiently transparent and take into consideration the fiscal sustainability of recipient countries.
Japan's view has been shared by India at a time when China is rapidly expanding its clout with Xi's "One Belt, One Road" cross-border infrastructure initiative, while concerns are growing among some developing countries that massive construction projects primarily involving Chinese companies could leave them with huge debts.
Since 2005, Japanese and Indian prime ministers have held summit talks almost annually.
During Modi's previous Japan visit in 2016, a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was signed to enable Japan to export nuclear technology to India. The deal took effect the following year.
On Sunday, Modi became the first foreign leader to be invited to Abe's vacation home near Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo. The invitation was extended as a token of gratitude for the Indian leader's warm reception of Abe in his home state of Gujarat in September last year. (Kyodo)