PM arrives in Japan to give a fillip to bilateral ties

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Tokyo, Oct 21 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today arrived here on the first leg of his five-day visit to Japan and China.

Dr Singh and his entourage touched down at 1700 hrs in Japan.

A strong India-Japan relationship will play a significant role in the emerging Asian security architecture and will contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the whole region and the world, the Prime Minister said in a departure statement in New Delhi.

Dr Singh said he considered the ties with Japan to be one of the most important bilateral relationships for India.

The Prime Minister will take part in the fourth annual summit-level exchange with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso tomorrow.

The global financial meltdown which is showing its ripple effects across global economies besides global condition in the areas of economy, energy, climate change and food security will dominate Dr Singh's engagement with Asian and European leaders during his visit to Japan and China.

At the bilateral talks, Dr Singh and Mr Aso will review the progress of the initiatives already taken by both the countries and discuss measures to take them forward in a bid to broaden the bilateral relationship at all levels.

India is the single largest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA), constituting 30 per cent of its total ODA.

Dr Singh said after his visit to Japan, he would be travelling to Beijing on October 23 to attend the seventh Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM-7) at Beijing the next day. This will be India's first participation in ASEM at the summit level after it joined the grouping of 45 countries, which includes Pakistan.

''This will be the first time India will be participating in an ASEM Summit. Our participation in this Summit is a natural corollary of our close and growing ties with countries in Asia and Europe,'' he said.

On the margins of the ASEM Summit, in addition to meeting President Hu Jintao, the Prime Minister would also have the opportunity to meet with other world leaders, including President Purvanov of Bulgaria, President Enkhbayar of Mongolia, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy and Prime Minister Nguyan Tan Dung of Vietnam.

Dr Singh would return to New Delhi in the evening of October 25.

UNI SH RP SB KP1805

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