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Abe Pledges With Singh to Boost Japan-India Defense Cooperation

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to increase defense cooperation and push for a deal that would allow the export to India of nuclear reactor parts for civilian use.

The two leaders agreed today in Tokyo to conduct a feasibility study on a high-speed rail link between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and welcomed the signing of a 71 billion yen ($699 million) loan for the Mumbai metro line. Abe also pledged 30 billion yen for promoting Indian technology and investment.

Singh “expressed his appreciation to the government and people of Japan for their continued and unwavering support to India’s development,” according to a joint statement. Abe pledged to maintain development aid “at a substantial level.”

Promoting the export of nuclear power and rail technology is part of Abe’s drive to triple infrastructure exports to about 30 trillion yen by 2020 to boost economic growth. He is also boosting regional security ties in the face of China’s growing assertiveness to islands administered by Japan.

India and Japan’s navies held their first joint exercise in June 2012, and Abe and Singh “decided to conduct such exercises on a regular basis with increased frequency,” according to the statement. The two nations will discuss ways to cooperate on using Japan’s US-2 amphibious aircraft designed for air-sea rescue operations.

“We attach particular importance to intensifying political dialogue, strategic consultations and progressively strengthening defense relations including through naval exercises and collaboration on defense technology,” Singh said at the release of the statement.

Fukushima

Abe is marketing Japan’s atomic energy expertise even as the government mulls restarting nuclear plants shut after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Japan and India forged an economic agreement in 2011 abolishing tariffs on 94 percent of trade over 10 years. Bilateral trade was about $17.6 billion in 2012, little changed from the previous year, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.

Singh’s visit was initially scheduled for last year, but was postponed after then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda called a snap election for December. The Indian leader leaves Japan for Bangkok tomorrow.

To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net; Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at thirokawa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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