New Delhi, Oct 21 : Before embarking on his Japan and China visit, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today said that a strong India-Japan relationship would play a significant role in the emerging Asian security architecture, and added that it will contribute to "peace, stability and prosperity" of Asia and the world.
In his departure statement, he said, "I consider our bilateral relations with Japan to be one of the most important bilateral relationships we have. India and Japan are two major countries in Asia, sharing many similar interests and subscribing to common values."
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 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.
"In my discussions with Taro Aso, who is a close friend of India, we will review the progress that has been achieved in our bilateral ties over the last one year and set the agenda for the next year. Even though over the last four years, there has been significant progress in all aspects of our bilateral relationship, there is still a lot of untapped potential that remains to be realised," said Dr. Singh.
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.
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.
"Our participation in this Summit is a natural corollary of our close and growing ties with countries in Asia and Europe," Dr. Singh said.
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.