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India and Japan looking to operate in third countries

At a time when China is seeking to extend its reach in the region, India and Japan are looking to work together in third countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, showing the increasing congruence of their strategic interests. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday that both India and Japan had actually begun to look at operating technically in third countries, adding, “we have done a little bit of that in Sri Lanka.”

He said that the recent signing of a military logistics deal between India and Japan will serve as a “big plus” for the advancement of the Indo-Pacific vision of both countries and add to Asia’s security and stability. He spoke on relations between India and Japan at a conference arranged by the FICCI Chamber of Industry.

The Minister for External Relations also said that big and relevant nations in Asia should come together as wasting their efforts on counteracting each other will not advance the interests of the continent. The remarks made at a time when the Asian giants India and China were embroiled in a bitter border standoff are seen as an overt reference to China.

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Talking about the evolution of India-Japan relations, Jaishankar said both countries are now looking to work together in third countries, adding that they are still in the “early stages”. The other choice, he said, is that of the Pacific island countries where India has been growing its development cooperation and political footprint. At the time of the signing of the military logistics agreement between India and Japan, he said that it was a very realistic example of the two countries’ willingness and desire to work together.

The historic agreement signed on 9 September, allows for the two armies to provide access to each other’s logistical support bases. Jaishankar said that both India and Japan have a vision for the Indo-Pacific region, and the two countries have tried in several ways to mold the narrative of the problem. The Minister for External Affairs said that relations between India and Japan have increased in substance and depth over the last few years, as both sides have increased convergence on strategic regional and global issues. He also pointed to cooperation between the two countries at the Quad, ASEAN and East Asia Summits.