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WASHINGTON: The US has welcomed the just announced India-Japan Strategic Partnership and said it is looking forward to strengthen its trilateral co-operation with them.
“The US strongly supports India’s collaboration and cooperation with its neighbors in the Asia Pacific. We actively support such collaboration through our trilateral dialogue and other activities with India and Japan, and look forward to strengthening further our trilateral cooperation,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told PTI.

The US strongly supports a prosperous India playing an important role on the global stage, she said.

It is during the Obama Administration that India, Japan and the US have started trilateral meetings.

“As we have long said, a strong, prosperous India contributes to regional and global peace and prosperity,” Psaki said responding to questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan this week.

During a meeting between Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzao Abe, the two sides announced India-Japan strategic partnership and deepening of defense relationship.

The Pentagon welcomed the decision of India and Japan and said that the latter’s participation in the Malabar exercise would be routine.

“We are very excited that Japan’s participation in Exercise Malabar is becoming routine and believe that credible, ready, and inter-operable maritime forces help to preserve peace, prevent conflict, and foster a spirit of cooperation to meet regional and global challenges for mutual benefit,” Jeffrey S Pool, a Defense Department spokesperson said.

American think-tank community has described Modi’s Japan visit a great success.

“Modi’s visit to Japan has been lauded by all corners as a great success,” said Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.

“The United States has strongly supported strengthened ties between India and Japan (the US-India-Japan trilateral just one example), and the deliverables announced in the Tokyo Declaration complement components of US-India relations,” Ayres told PTI.

The joint emphasis on democracy, upgraded defense relations, science and technology, and a robust catalogue of economic undertakings all illustrate similarity with priorities in the US-India relationship, she said.

One major difference lies in the Japanese government’s ability to mobilize large amounts of Overseas Development Assistance, particularly through soft loans, she added.

“The Tokyo Declaration puts Prime Minister Abe’s commitment at 3.5 trillion yen over five years (around USD USD 33 billion). That’s a much larger sum than the United States government typically mobilizes, and at a time when the US Congress has not renewed the US ExIm Bank’s charter, shows where Washington has a diminished ability to support similar projects,” Ayres said.

“Countries like Japan are working with economic policy tools to meet the strategic interests of partners like India, especially on infrastructure. Some good lessons for us here,” she said.

Writing for “Asia Unbound” a CFR foreign policy blog, Sheila A Smith wrote that in his five-day visit this week, Narendra Modi has made Japan’s pivot to India even more enticing, and far more likely to succeed.

Modi’s election in May has brought more energy to the relationship, she noted.

“As the television footage suggested, the two leaders seem to have a good chemistry, and enjoyed their time together. Modi even sent out messages of thanks to Abe via social media as he visited Kyoto and other spots in Japan,” Smith said.

Abe, according to her, must be satisfied to see one of his main diplomatic efforts take root.

He has put considerable energy into developing new partners and opportunities for balancing China’s rise, and India has long been an option that Tokyo’s strategic thinkers have looked to develop, she observed.–PTI

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