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Japan, India foreign chiefs agree on closer cooperation for Abe trip

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (Kyodo)

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar agreed on Thursday to step up cooperation for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's planned visit to the South Asian country within the year.

During their talks in New York, where the U.N. General Assembly is being held, Motegi expressed Japan's readiness to promote bilateral ties between Tokyo and New Delhi, Japanese officials said.

In response, Jaishankar invited Motegi, who was appointed as foreign minister earlier this month, to India for the so-called two-plus-two talks involving the two countries' foreign and defense ministers, according to the officials.

Japan and India have been bolstering bilateral cooperation, in particular in the field of defense, on the back of the military presence of China, while Tokyo has been improving its relations with Beijing.

The ministers also exchanged views on China's Belt and Road infrastructure development initiative amid concerns over Beijing's growing influence in the region and confirmed their cooperation to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, an Asia-wide free trade pact.

As part of reciprocal visits by the two countries' leaders, Abe last visited India in September 2017, and Modi traveled to Japan in June for the Group of 20 summit in Osaka following bilateral talks in October last year.

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