EPA eludes Indo-Japan summit, Corridor to get 100 billion yen

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Tokyo, Oct 22 (UNI) India and Japan today failed to sign the much-expected Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at the summit-level meeting between their Prime Ministers, but both sides asserted that they would strive for an early conclusion of EPA even as Japan pledged a 100 billion yen assistance for the Mumbai-Delhi Industrial Corridor project.

''We welcome the fact that substantive progress has been achieved. We agreed that we will strive for early conclusion of EPA," said Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso while jointly addressing a press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concluding bilateral talks as part of the fourth annual summit-level meeting between them.

He said both India and Japan were the largest economies in Asia and, therefore, deep economic ties is a natural development.

"EPA between us is important for us to come closer," Mr Aso said, while refraining from commenting on specifics saying that negotiations were still underway.

Asked if the increasing cooperation between India and Japan was a signal to China that a new economic order is in the offing in Asia, Dr Singh pointed towards the signing of the security cooperation today and the efforts to sign EPA not at the cost of any third country, least of all China.

"I sincerely believe that there is no competition between India and China. There is enormous scope for both India and China to realize their development plans," Dr Singh said.

Asked why the Japanese businessmen were nervous about investing in India, Mr Aso said the investment of Japan in India increased ten fold and investment by Japanese companies doubled in the past five years.

He said the number of Japanese firms investing in India was 200 in the last three years. This could be compared to just 100 in the past 50 years.

"Keep these numbers in mind. The situation is changing extremely fast. We are making progress." MORE UNI SH RP SB KN1812

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