Navies of India and Japan to hold joint exercise
New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) In a first, India and Japan have decided to conduct a joint exercise involving their navies later this year off that country. A decision to this effect was taken during the meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba at the 6th IndiaJapan Strategic Dialogue here. "We agreed to conduct a joint exercise between Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force. It is the first of its kind. The date is yet to be finalised. The meetings gave the political blessing for the proposal," Masaru Sato, Assistant Press Secretary of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told reporters here tonight. He said the exercises would be conducted when the Indian Navy makes a visit to Japan to commemorate 60 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries. Sato said the two countries also decided to launch maritime dialogue mechanism and increase cooperation in anti -piracy operations off Somalian coast. He also said the mechanism would enable sharing of information between enforcement agencies of both the countries. The spokesman said India is situated at an important place on the sea lanes of the communication which links Japan with the Middle East. "India is a very good location. We would want to create a stable and prosperous environment here," he said. To a specifc query, he said there have been a lot of blocs between India and China and China and Japan seperately. "We have not seen China, India and Japan. Why not?" he said. Sato said Gemba told Krishna that steps should be taken to improve trade relations between the two countries. He said India's trade with Japan was just 2.2 per cent of its total trade and Japan's trade with India is just 1 per cent.