Manmohan Singh raises a toast with his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan at a banquet in Tokyo on Monday. (PTI)
Tokyo, Oct. 25: India and Japan appear set to find a common and acceptable ground to conclude the civil nuclear co-operation agreement that ran aground because of Japans internal pressures.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan, who met this evening, recognised the need to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement at an early date.
Accordingly, the next round of talks will take place in Tokyo in the third week of November, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao told newspersons tonight.
Areas that are delicate and complex need to be managed. The very nature (of the deal) would imply that you should look at issues for their complexities. There is political resolve to strengthen co-operation and come to an ultimate agreement from both sides, said Rao.
It appeared a consensus would have to be found between the seemingly irreconcilable positions that India and Japan have adopted, evident in the phrasing of the joint statement signed by Singh and Kan.
Both reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but Kan restated that India should sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty soon. Singh reiterated Indias commitment to a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, which Japan found inadequate. Japan wants a commitment that goes slightly beyond what India had given to the Nuclear Suppliers Group when it sought the waiver of sanctions in 2008.
Indias view was if Japan continued to be seized with threats of Chinas expansionist designs — the fear continues to make headlines — it might eventually tone down its position.
Earlier in the day, Singh hinted that a civil nuclear co-operation pact with Japan might not materialise in the foreseeable future.
We would hope that Japan would be Indias partner in expansion of its civil nuclear industry for peaceful purposes. But I recognise the sensitivity of this issue in Japan. Therefore, I will not force the issue on you, said Singh in response to a question asked by corporate leader Nakahara of Mitsubishi.
Ironically, Nakaharas query was not on the nuclear deal but what Indias next step would be in concluding the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
Singhs statement on the nuclear agreement was a unilateral submission and came hours before his meeting with Kan.
This morning, Singh addressed a luncheon meeting of businessmen from India and Japan that was hosted by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan-India Business Co-operation Committee.
India has already signed pacts with many countries, including Russia, Canada, France, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia, with relatively fewer problems.
On Sunday, India signalled clearly that despite Japans special history signposted by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, it would not craft a separate template to facilitate nuclear commerce.
The Indian side was optimistic that given the aggressive entrepreneurial push in Japan to sell technology, including nuclear technology, to India, the fate of the contracts signed by two US companies to set up plants in India may not be endangered. The companies, GE and Westinghouse, are partially or wholly owned by Japanese companies.
But that Delhi would play hardball with Japan on the nuclear deal was apparent in promises of mega business prospects that Singh dangled before the audience that included the whos who of Japans corporate sector.
In the first part of his reply to Nakaharas question, Singh said: Indias investment needs and infrastructure will be at least US $1 trillion. Part of the investment will be from within. We expect Japanese investments to provide substantial support.
He added that 40 per cent of Indias population was expected to relocate to urban areas in the next few years. There will be problems of urban management, transportation and control of urban waste. These are areas where Japanese industry has unique capabilities.
To signal that the nuclear pact was on track, the joint statement said Singh and Kan reiterated that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing processes. They decided India and Japan would enhance co-operation in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation through close dialogues.