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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

US, India and Japan to meet, discuss China

US President Barack Obama and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attend the gala dinner during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and East Asia Summit in Nusa Dua on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. In the backdrop of China's increasing assertiveness, Washington will for the first time host a trilateral official-level dialogue with Japanese, Indian and US diplomats on December 19 to build convergence over regional maritime security and non-proliferation in East Asia and Pacific region.

The dialogue earlier scheduled for October 8 in Tokyo was postponed on a US request.

Government sources said top Indian officials from the disarmament and non-proliferation, East Asia and America divisions of the ministry of external affairs will interact with their US counterparts such as assistant secretary (South Asia) Robert Blake and assistant secretary (East Asia and Pacific Affairs) and their equivalents from Japan's foreign ministry.

The dialogue will ramp up to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's visit to India on December 28.

While major bilateral initiatives like an agriculture corridor and trans-Asian Buddhist circuit are in the pipeline during Noda's visit, New Delhi and Tokyo will for the first time explore the possibility of joint research in the defence sector.

Driven by Tokyo and finalised during then foreign secretary Nirupama Rao's visit to Japan in April 2010, the dialogue is also part of New Delhi's effort to go beyond the stated Look East policy and engage North Asia as well.

US President Barack Obama and recently secretary of state Hillary Clinton had talked about the need for India to reach out to East Asia.

While Japan is a treaty ally of the US, India is being approached by South-East Asian countries and even Australia for trilateral initiatives in the face of Beijing's claims over the oil-rich South China Sea at the East Asia Summit in Bali last month.

New Delhi on its part plans to calibrate this trilateral initiative in a way that it is not seen as a platform against China.

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