In their inaugural foreign and defence ministerial dialogue, India and Japan on Saturday voiced serious concern over the threat posed to regional peace and security by terror networks operating from Pakistan and asked it to take “resolute and irreversible” action to contain terrorism.
The two countries, under the new framework of two-plus-two dialogue, discussed a raft of strategic issues including the latest developments in the disputed South China Sea, evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region and ways to boost bilateral cooperation in co-development of military hardware, officials said.
Acknowledging the emerging security challenges, the two sides specifically decided to further expand maritime security ties and expressed satisfaction over the progress made in the negotiations for the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) which would allow the two countries to use each other’s military logistics, they said.
While deliberating on security challenges facing the region and beyond, the two countries specifically referred to the threat posed by terrorist networks operating out of Pakistan and asked it to “fully comply” with its international commitments to deal with terrorism including implementing the steps mandated by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-terror watchdog.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar led the Indian delegation while the Japanese side was headed by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Minister of Defence Taro Kono, officials said.
“The ministers underlined the need for all countries to ensure that all territory under their control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner,” an Indo-Japan joint statement said.
“They noted in this context the threat posed to regional security by terrorist networks operating out of Pakistan and called upon it to take resolute and irreversible action against them and fully comply with international commitments including to FATF,” it said.
India and Japan also called upon all countries take resolute action for rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupt terrorist networks, eliminate financing channels and halt cross-border movement of terrorists.
On the evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific, the two sides emphasised that boosting bilateral cooperation would help in furthering the cause of peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Japanese side appreciated India’s announcement of ‘Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative’ at the recent East Asia Summit in Bangkok to create a safe, secure, stable, prosperous and sustainable maritime domain, and confirmed their willingness to discuss concrete cooperation based on the Initiative.
China has been fast expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region, triggering concern in various countries of the region and beyond.
Earlier in the day, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi and Defence Minister Kono called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the meeting, Modi said India’s relationship with Japan is a key component of its vision for peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The joint statement said the two sides exchanged views on the recent developments in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.
The two sides called for peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The South China Sea witnessed renewed tension recently after China deployed a large number of survey vessels in Vietnamese waters including around areas where India’s ONGC has oil exploration projects.
“The ministers also took note of the negotiations of a Code of Conduct (COC) and urged that it should be effective, substantive, and consistent with international law, including the UNCLOS, ensure freedom of navigation and must not prejudice the rights and interests of the stakeholders using the South China Sea,” the joint statement said.
On the situation in Korean peninsula, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of realising North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
“The ministers condemned North Korea’s recent launches of ballistic missiles which are clear violation of the relevant UNSCRs. The ministers strongly urged North Korea to resolve the abductions issue at the earliest date,” the joint statement said.
On bilateral defence ties, the two sides resolved to further expand bilateral military exercises, and concurred to proceed with coordination for the first India-Japan joint fighter aircraft exercise in Japan.
“The ministers affirmed that this dialogue will further enhance the strategic depth of bilateral security and defence cooperation,” the joint statement said.
In his initial comments at the talks, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said the new format symbolises the strong bond of mutual trust between the two countries.
Before the two-plus-two talks, Jaishankar and Singh held separate meetings with their Japanese counterparts.
Officials said Singh and Kono deliberated on key facets of Indo-Japan defence and security cooperation as well as reviewed the evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Indo-Japan defence and foreign ministerial talks took place following a decision taken by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during the 13th India-Japan annual summit last year.
The two leaders decided to institute the new mechanism for further deepen bilateral security and defence cooperation and bring greater depth to the special strategic and global partnership between the two countries.