Japan-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting

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June 22, 2004

On Monday June 21, Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi held a meeting with Minister of External Affairs of India Natwar Singh on the occasion of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) meeting held in Qingdao, China. This is the first Foreign Ministers' meeting between Japan and India since the new Indian administration was established this May. The following is a summary of the foreign ministers' meeting.

1. Japan-India Relations

(1)Minister Kawaguchi extended an invitation to Minister Singh to visit Japan, to which Minister Singh expressed his appreciation and best intentions to realize his visit.

(2)Minister Kawaguchi mentioned that Japan and India have agreed upon strengthening their global partnership based on a strategic perspective. She expressed her intentions to enhance their relationship with the new administration in the same spirit and to cooperate on various global issues. Minister Singh responded by referring to the visit of former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to India and the agreement to establish the Global Partnership between the two countries, while expressing intentions to collaborate towards enhancing bilateral relations. Minister Singh also expressed interest in the Japan-India Security Dialogue.

(3)Minister Kawaguchi mentioned the visit to India by Director General Shigeru Ishiba of the Japan Defense Agency and the promotion of mutual contacts between their countries at the working-level before pointing out that it was necessary to hold bilateral talks covering a broad range of issues, including security and other important issues of economic affairs, such as the WTO and those of economic cooperation (Minister Kawaguchi pointed out that India is the largest recipient of yen loans). Minister Singh pointed out that bilateral trade had not yet reached a level worthy of its potential and that further strengthening Japan-India trade relations was desired, referring to an idea of Joint Study Group (JSG) to meet this end.

(4)Minister Singh also indicated his interest in the Japan-China-India trilateral cooperation.

(5)Minister Kawaguchi reiterated Japan's request for India to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as well as to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

2. India-Pakistan Relations

(1) Minister Singh gave an account of the Expert Level Talks on Nuclear Confidence Building Measures, which were held on June 19-20 in Delhi and the first India-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Meeting since the new Indian government was established of June 21. He stated that the Foreign Ministers' Meeting was conducted in a warm atmosphere and it was productive. Minister Singh further noted that he was scheduled to meet the Foreign Minister of Pakistan again in Indonesia one week later and welcomed such opportunities to meet his Pakistani counterpart in various fora. Minister Kawaguchi underlined the importance of such confidence building measures between India and Pakistan along with improvement of managing nuclear weapons for the stability in the region.

(2) Minister Singh explained that the most significant accomplishment of the joint statement produced by the aforementioned Expert Level Talks was the agreement between India and Pakistan to call on all nuclear powers to gather for working-level discussions. Minister Singh suggested that India recognised nuclear issues as a global issue which must be dealt by all nuclear powers in the world, and emphasised that it was not an issue specific to India and Pakistan. Minister Singh mentioned that he was keen to work with all the nuclear powers towards complete nuclear disarmament, which was advocated by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India. Minister Kawaguchi insisted that such a meeting between the nuclear powers should not be intended to form a strong nuclear club but rather should be dedicated towards promoting nuclear disarmament.

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