India said Saturday that ties with Japan are key to stability in the Indo-Pacific region as the two countries held their inaugural foreign and defense ministerial dialogue in New Delhi with an aim to further bolster their strategic partnership.
The security talks focused on cooperation in building a free and open Indo-Pacific in view of China’s growing footprint in the region. They took place following a decision by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, during a summit between the leaders last year.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar headed the Indian delegation, while the Japanese side was led by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Taro Kono.
Singh held talks with Kono on a range of issues. The Press Trust of India news agency reported that the two ministers discussed deepening ties in the development of weapons and military hardware.
India and Japan said in a joint statement that the “further strengthening of bilateral cooperation was in mutual interest of both countries and would also help in furthering the cause of the peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held a meeting with Japan’s foreign and defense ministers.
Modi said that India’s relationship with Japan is “a key component of our vision for Indo-Pacific for peace, stability and prosperity of the region, as well as a cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy,” according to a statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Japan is only the second country after the U.S. with which India has used the so-called “two-plus-two” dialogue format, which brings the foreign and defense ministers together for talks.