Japan-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting

November 27, 2004

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Nobutaka Machimura held a meeting with Minister of External Affairs Natwar Singh of India on Saturday, November 27, during his visit to Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus Japan, People's Republic of China and Republic of Korea (ROK) (ASEAN+3) Foreign Ministers' Meeting. The Ministers discussed a wide range of issues, covering both bilateral relations such as their economic relations and economic cooperation and global issues such as United Nations reform, environmental issues and disarmament and non-proliferation issues, as well as touching upon India-Pakistan relations. The following is a summary of the meeting.

1. Japan-India relations

(1) Foreign Minister Machimura conveyed his gratitude for the message he received from External Affairs Minister Singh congratulating his inauguration and letter of condolence for the victims and damage caused by the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake, before expressing his intention to maintain their cordial relations upon the basis of the Japan-India Global Partnership. External Affairs Minister Singh replied by welcoming Foreign Minister Machimura's appointment to the office of Foreign Minister and conveyed his intentions to further cooperate towards enhancing their bilateral relations as well as touching on the great achievements during the visit by then-Foreign Minister Kawaguchi this August.

(2) Foreign Minister Machimura voiced his expectations for a "Japan-India Joint Study Group for a Comprehensive Study (JSG-CS)" to be established shortly in order to strengthen their economic relationship while External Affairs Minister Singh stated that he was pleased to see that both countries had been making progress in their discussions over issues on means to expand trade and investment, defense and security as well as maritime traffic security.

(3) While mentioning that India had become the largest partner of Japan's yen loan, Foreign Minister Machimura stressed the importance of India's effective use of Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA). External Affairs Minister Singh signaled India's expectation for Japan's assistance particularly in the field of infrastructure such as roads, communications and energy as well as expressing his deep gratitude for the assistance provided by Japan.

2. United Nations reform

With regard to UN and Security Council reform, External Affairs Minister Singh noted that while the G4--i.e. Japan, Germany, India and Brazil--held consultations at both the leaders and foreign ministers levels in New York, he wished for even closer cooperation between Japan and India on this issue. In response, Foreign Minister Machimura matched his counterpart in his intention to cooperate closely and shared his wish to continue with the Consultation Meeting on UN Reforms at the Director General Level, which had been held this autumn.

3. India-Pakistan relations/Disarmament and non-proliferation

Foreign Minister Machimura noted that India-Pakistan relations, including the Kashmir issue, was a difficult task, but voiced his expectation that India would take a positive initiative on this matter. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Machimura underlined the effect of heightened tensions between the two countries that have conducted nuclear tests on the whole of Asia and reiterated Japan's position to call on all countries to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), including India. In response, External Affairs Minister Singh stated their traditional position that it had no intention of signing the NPT.

4. Environmental issues

External Affairs Minister Singh asked Japan's view on the position of the United States towards the Kyoto Protocol in particular, to which Foreign Minister Machimura replied that he would continue calling on China and the US to join the Protocol, as its effects of the Kyoto Protocol would be greatly diminished without the participation of China and the US, which are two greatly influential countries, although the Kyoto Protocol would soon enter into effect.

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