Prime Minister leaves for Japan, China visit

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New Delhi, Oct 21 : Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh left for a five-day visit to Japan and China this morning.

Dr. Singh will be in Japan from October 21 to 23 for a bilateral visit, and will thereafter travel to China from October 23 to 24 for the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit.

In a statement ahead of his departure for Japan, Dr. Singh said: "A strong India-Japan relations will play a significant role in the emerging Asian security architecture."

Dr.Singh further said: "There is still a lot of untapped potential that remains to be realised."

In Japan, Dr. Singh will meet his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso and will hold talks on political, security and economic ties, including a free trade agreement, aiming to expand bilateral strategic relations.

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss nuclear energy issues in Japan, which reluctantly backed a nuclear technology deal between India and the USA.

During his visit, Dr. Singh will call on Japanese Emperor Akihito. Several high-ranking Japanese ministers as well as Opposition leaders are expected to call on Dr. Singh.

On the eve of the Prime Minister's visit, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said, "India-Japan laid out a roadmap for the strategic and global partnership last year and it will be carried forward during the talks."

In China, Dr. Singh will attend the ASEM Summit. The 27-nation grouping, in which India was admitted in 2006, will deliberate on political, economic, social and cultural issues, including matters related to sustainable development.

This is the first time that India will be participating in an ASEM Summit.

Dr. Singh said: "Our participation in the summit is a natural corollary of our close and growing ties with countries in Asia and Europe."

He will also meet Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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