India and Japan looking at boosting cooperation in third countries: FS Shringla

 India and Japan are looking at deepening cooperation in third countries including in the Russian Far East region and the Pacific Island countries, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday.

In an address at the India-Japan forum, he said the growing convergence between the two countries on strategic and economic issues has the potential to shape a multi-polar world that is more peaceful, secure and sustainable.

Shringla said the evolving geopolitical situation, with the focus shifting decisively towards the Indo-Pacific region and a deeper understanding of the complementarities between the two countries, has further enhanced the partnership.

"India and Japan are continuing to enhance their ability to work with other partners in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. We are looking at deepening our cooperation in third countries, moving beyond India's immediate neighbourhood to the Russian Far East and the Pacific Island states," he said.

Talking about people-to-people exchanges and partnership in the area of skill development, Shringla said that the time may have come for the two sides to consider a migration and mobility partnership agreement to facilitate the mobility of professionals and highly-skilled workers.

The foreign secretary said that Japan's participation as the lead partner in the "connectivity pillar" of the Indo-Pacific Oceans'' Initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greatly welcomed and will provide significant impetus to it.

At the East Asia summit in Bangkok in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed setting up the IPOI to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain.

The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China's increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers.

Several countries and blocs have come out with their vision for the Indo-Pacific considering its growing strategic interests.

Shringla said the progress in the economic pillar of India-Japan ties has been accompanied by an increasing convergence in the strategic outlook towards the region.

"This is reflected in our shared vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. This convergence is not only seen in bilateral exchanges but also in the increasing comfort in working with other like-minded partners through plurilateral forums, involving other partners," he said.

"In addition, Quad consultations along with the US and Australia provide a platform for these four countries to explore ways to synergize their respective efforts towards the region," he added.

Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, he said it has not only generated severe economic stress but would have a long term impact on the geopolitical situation.

"While this period may be characterised by flux and a sense of heightened insecurity, the growing convergence of India and Japan on strategic and economic issues has the potential to shape a multi-polar world that is more peaceful, secure and sustainable," Shringla said.

The foreign secretary also mentioned that both sides are taking initiatives to re-work supply chains to make them more reliable.

"An important step in this direction has been the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative that India and Japan, in partnership with Australia, have launched recently. The three countries have started working-level interactions on a range of issues under this framework," he said.

The foreign secretary identified manufacturing, agriculture, digital technologies, start-ups and clean energy as are where there was scope for creating new partnerships.

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