PM, Kan exchange notes on China, agree engagement best way

During the course of their discussions, Kan and Singh discussed what kind of relations their countries had with China, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters while briefing on the talks between the two leaders.

Japan has maritime dispute with China while India has land boundary issue to resolve with that country. Rao said the two leaders discussed how important their relations were with China from the strategic, security and economic point of view and how both countries desire peaceful and productive relationship with China.

They deliberated upon how it was important to engage China in "closer and more open dialogue," she said, adding the Indian side cited examples in this regard. The Japanese Prime Minister was interested in knowing from Singh the development of India's relations with China in terms of trade and economy which has grown even while issues remain.

Talking about the disputes with China, Rao said Singh mentioned the "very well functioning system" to discuss these differences with China in an "engaging way". Both sides felt that "this is the best way to deal with China to draw it into productive discussions to resolve issues."

Rao said it was a fact of life that India and Japan have issues with China and resolving these would require "deep analysis" and "lot of patience". Favouring development of "in depth" relations with China, the Foreign Secretary noted that China was growing as a global power, especially in the economic context, and "We wish to see peaceful rise of China".

Rao's attention was drawn to the decision of India and Japan today to explore possibility of bilateral cooperation in development, re-cycling and re-use of rare earth metals, an exercise China is already undertaking.

Responding, she denied that China was any reason for this decision, insisting that it was India-Japan specific process in which the two countries have been involved since 1950s and were now wanting to have long-term joint ventures.

Giving an overview of the talks that Singh had with Kan, she said they had "comprehensive" discussions and felt the need for developing all encompassing relations covering political, economy and security aspects.

Significantly, the two sides decided to set up Minister level Economic Dialogue. The proposal was mooted by Japan, which already has such a Dialogue with China. Since the Japanese side "broached this idea with us, we welcomed, look upon positively" given the fact that our relationship has strong foundation and growing in all areas, specifically economic areas, Rao said.

Later, addressing a banquet hosted in his honour by the Japanese Prime Minister, Singh said "sky is the limit" for developing Japan-India relations, a proposition which is close to his heart.

Earlier in the day, Singh unveiled a plaque at Indian Chancery where he was felicitated. Significantly, three former Prime Ministers, including Yoshiro Mori and Shinzo Abe, attended the function.

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