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Japan, Britain to start talks on access agreement for joint exercises

In this Sept. 6, 2021 photo, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, right, commander of the strike group centered on Britain's aircraft carrier the Queen Elizabeth, speaks to Japan Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on the deck of British Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. (Pool photo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and Britain have agreed to commence negotiations on an agreement that would enhance interoperability and collaboration between the armed forces of both countries, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a press conference Tuesday.

    The Japan-Britain Reciprocal Access Agreement talks come amid efforts to counter China's growing military influence in Asia, with the first round of negotiations to be held on Oct. 7.

    The Japanese government is aiming to conclude a similar agreement with Australia after agreeing in principle on a status of forces pact during bilateral talks in November last year.

    The RAA is a legal framework that seeks to simplify procedures, such as bringing in weapons, for a country's armed forces to engage in joint training in a partner country. If concluded, it will expand the scope of defense cooperation by also facilitating the flow of troops.

    "We believe (the agreement) will contribute to further strengthening cooperation between our two countries as we work toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific," Motegi said at a press conference.

    In formal talks held in August 2017, the leaders of Japan and Britain announced a set of joint statements pledging cooperation on security. Both countries have been working to conclude an agreement based on this pledge.

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