With eye on China, India, Japan poised to expand maritime dialogue

NEW DELHI:  With an eye on China, India and Japan have decided to ramp up their strategic cooperation and agreed on expanding the scope of joint exercises in their first maritime dialogue held in the Indian capital.

The India-Japan maritime dialogue has acquired an added traction due to the perceived Chinese assertiveness in the maritime domain and in view of Beijing’s territorial spats in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

During the Jan 29 talks, the Indian side was led by D. B. Venkatesh Varma, chief of disarmament and international security division in India’s external affairs ministry and comprised officials from ministries of defence, coast guard, shipping and earth sciences. Kazuyuki Yamazaki led the Japanese delegation which also included officials from ministries of shipping, economy and Coast Guard.

The talks focused on expanding the ambit of maritime dialogue and explored the possibility of holding more joint naval exercises. The first joint bilateral exercise was held off the Japanese coast last year.

The Japanese side also updated India on the dispute with China on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

The India-Japan maritime dialogue has coincided with tough posturing by the new dispensation in Beijing with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President the anointed president Xi Jinping underlining China’s “core” interests in his maiden foreign policy speech Jan 29.

“No foreign country should ever nurse hopes that we will bargain over our core national interests, and nor should they nurse hopes that we will swallow the bitter fruit of harm to our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” said Xi.

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