Japan Says Kashmir Issues To Resolve Through Dialogue

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Japan on Sunday called for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue through dialogue in view of the long-standing differences of views on the region.

A day after India and Japan held the first combined dialogue of their defence and foreign ministers, popularly known as the 2+2 dialogue, Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson Atsushi Kaifu told reporters here there wasn’t a detailed discussion on the Kashmir issue during the talks.

“I don’t remember the ministers going into the detailed discussion of this specific Kashmir issue,” Kaifu said in response to a question on whether Kashmir had figured in the dialogue.

“But at the same time, I can say we looked at the situation there very carefully and we are aware of the long-standing differences of views with regard to Kashmir. We hope a peaceful resolution through dialogue will be done,” he said.

Kaifu didn’t refer to India’s August 5 decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and subsequent tensions with Pakistan, or the security lockdown in Kashmir.

A joint statement issued after Saturday’s 2+2 dialogue said India and Japan consider terror groups based in Pakistan a threat to regional security. They also called on Pakistan to take “resolute and irreversible action” against such groups and to comply with terrorism-related international commitments.

Kaifu described the 2+2 talks as “historic” and said Japan had such a dialogue with only seven countries, including the US, France and Russia. The talks had also prepared the grounds for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit next month for his annual summit with his Indian counterpart, he said.

Both sides want an open, free, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, he said, adding that North Korea and China had figured in the talks.

“The Japan-China relationship is back on the normal track…Now Japan and China have lively communications but we don’t compromise in any way on some principled issues such as maritime and security issues, including South China Sea and East China Sea,” he said.

If China follows and acts according to international rules, there “will be more opportunities for both sides and I think this also could apply to (India)”, he added.

Replying to a question regarding uncertainty about the Japan-backed bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad following the formation of a new government in Maharashtra, Kaifu said Indian and Japanese officials were working closely to tackle challenges that are usually associated with such large schemes.

“We are working very hard, a joint feasibility study has been conducted and a MoU has been signed. Japan has also built facilities to train Indian personnel for this project,” he said.

Asked about New Delhi’s decision to opt out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact last month, Kaifu said the 15 other countries involved in the negotiations would try to address India’s concerns. The RCEP issue had figured when Japan’s defence and foreign ministers met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday and both sides had explained their positions, he said.

Kaifu said Japan is keen to work with India on developmental projects aimed at enhancing connectivity in third countries in the Indo-Pacific region and Africa and also within India in regions such as the northeast. Replying to a specific question on whether Japan would take up such projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Kaifu said his country is aware of the “current status of that area” and discussing matters carefully.

China, which claims Arunachal Pradesh is part of south Tibet, has opposed any foreign-backed projects in the state. (Hindustan Times)

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