Aso hosts banquet to Singh, breaks protocol

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Tokyo, Oct 22 (UNI) In a clear demonstration of growing ties between India and Japan, Prime Minister Taro Aso today broke the protocol and hosted a banquet in honour of his visiting Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.

"This is a working visit of Dr Singh. In such visits, banquet is unusual," Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told mediapersons, while underlining the significant progress achieved in the Strategic and Global partnership between the two major economies of Asia in the past five years.

He said banquet is a normal feature only in the case of state or official visit of a Prime Minister.

Mr Menon said Mr Aso had shown a special gesture to Dr Singh who visited Tokyo in December 2006 when the latter was the Foreign Minister and Abe Prime Minister.

He said there was a delegation level meeting followed by one-on-one meeting between Dr Singh and Mr Aso. "This was followed by the banquet." Mr Menon said Dr Singh was very happy with the outcome of his present visit. " Dr Singh is very satisfied with the productive and constructive nature of talks." "We are on our way to realise the potential of Indo-Japan relationship." He said both the leaders spent considerable time during the summit-level talks discussing the global economic turmoil. Both of them agreed that there must be some kind of Asian response to the crisis. "When to do this and how to do this will take time to evolve." UNI SH RP SB KP1908

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