Overview of Meeting Between Japanese and Indian Foreign Ministers at the ASEAN Regional Forum

August 1, 2002

The following is an overview of the meeting that took place between Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi and Indian Minister of External Affairs Yashwant Sinha in Brunei on July 31 on the occasion of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences (PMC).

1. The Role of the Japan-India Relationship in Asia

Minister for Foreign Affairs Kawaguchi referred to a policy speech made by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Singapore in January 2002 in which he expressed a vision that the nations of East Asia would "act together and advance together" and that close cooperation with India is necessary for the region. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stated that it is necessary for Japan and India to play a role in working for prosperity in East Asia. She noted the remarkable progress that India is making with regard to economic development and reform, in particular the progress being made in such fields as information technology. She welcomed the progress being made in Japan-India cooperation and expressed her hope that such cooperation can be strengthened in order to bring prosperity to Asia.

Indian Minister for External Affairs Sinha stated that India was pleased with Prime Minister Koizumi's speech in Singapore. He added that India is confronting the problem of terrorism and stated that by solving this matter as quickly as possible, India would also work for the issues of economic development and poverty in Asia.

2. Promoting Japan-India Relations

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stressed the importance of the human exchanges that are taking place during 2002, the year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. She noted that economic reform and development are proceeding in India and expressed the hope that Japanese companies can play an even more active role in cooperation. She added that Japan hopes for even broader cooperation between the two countries, including in the area of security.

Minister for External Affairs Sinha expressed appreciation for the participation of dignitaries from Japan in events marking the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations. He stated that economic and trade relations between Japan and India are developing, that he attaches importance to the India-Japan bilateral relationship, since the two nations share common principles, and that he hopes Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Kawaguchi will visit India soon. He noted that India has gained Japan's understanding on the problem of terrorism that India suffers and spoke highly of the fact that the two countries agreed on this issue in the Japan-India Joint Declaration. He also valued Japan's economic cooperation, since he was involved in it while serving as Minister of Finance, and expressed his desire to strengthen dialogue and construct a more comprehensive relationship that includes approaches to international issues.

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stressed the importance of international cooperation to deal with environmental issues, and she commended India's role in hosting the eighth Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP8). She noted the importance of preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and expressed her hope that India will sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as soon as possible. She also said that Japan would like to work on the issue of international terrorism. She also conveyed Japan's gratitude for the invitation to visit India and expressed condolences for the death of Indian Vice-President Krishan Kant.

3. India-Pakistan Relations

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi valued India's efforts to reduce tension and stated that Japan has been calling for Pakistan to stop infiltrations across the Line of Control and to dismantle training camps. She expressed Japan's hopes that India will continue to pursue forward-looking measures and that the coming state assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir will be free, fair and inclusive. She also stated that while Japan recognizes India's efforts in this area, Japan hopes for even greater efforts, responding to the expectations of the international community.

External Minister Sinha responded that India is continuing to exercise enormous self-restraint. He stated that it is necessary for Pakistan to put an end to infiltrations and to dismantle terrorist infrastructure. He noted that the terrorist camps are receiving financial assistance and training from Pakistan, that this is a threat not just to India but to the entire world, and that India hopes for continual pressure to be applied to Pakistan. He stressed India's commitment to the free and fair assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir and stated that the international community should encourage Pakistan, which is under military rule, to establish true democracy. He said that proof of an end to infiltrations, something Pakistan has committed to, is necessary, so some time to examine the situation is needed. He stated that if the infiltrations can be confirmed to have completely ended, India would like to start a dialogue with Pakistan aimed at resolving issues between the two nations.

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi expressed Japan's commitment to building an Asia that is peaceful and free of terrorism. She stated that Japan would continue to encourage Pakistan, adding that international cooperation is needed because terrorism is not a problem limited to South Asia but is an issue facing all of international society. She expressed Japan's intention to fulfill its role, including capacity building in many countries, and noted that Japan-India cooperation is necessary in this area. She added that Japan would continue encouraging democratization in Pakistan.

External Minister Sinha stated that India has taken steps to reduce tension, such as opening its airspace to Pakistani aircraft. He noted, though, that Pakistan's subsequent response indicates that continuing to reduce tension will be difficult. He said that India would do what it thinks right while considering Pakistan's response.

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