PM Manmohan Singh leaves for Tokyo tomorrow

Manmohan SinghPM Manmohan Singh leaves for Tokyo tomorrow. (Reuters)

Early conclusion of a bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation will be high on the agenda as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves tomorrow on a three-day visit to Japan seeking to give a new dimension to strategic partnership.

Singh will hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on a wide spectrum of issues of mutual interest and discuss ways to bolster strategic and global partnership

between the two countries.

This is the postponed annual summit between the two Prime Ministers which was originally scheduled for November last year. The visit was deferred in view of the announcement of general elections in December last year.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, and other senior officials are accompanying Singh.

Negotiations for the civil nuclear cooperation agreement have not made much headway since Japan was struck by Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, 2011.

"Agreements always take a certain amount of time... Discussions have been given some impetus recently but there are a number of stages we will have to go through before we reach the signature. I cannot put a date on it but we would certainly like to progress," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said in an indication that several issues still need to be worked out.

"We hope to make by the end of this year more progress in this field," he said.

On whether India has raised issues of nuclear safety during its discussions with Japan, he said, "Safety is one of the issues which we always discuss whenever we have discussions on civil nuclear cooperation with any country.

"And in the present atmosphere, safety is in fact probably a very high priority in our bilateral cooperation with any country. Certainly, with the Japanese, we will be

discussing this at great length," he said.

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