Gandhinagar, Sep 14: India and Japan discussed a deal to buy Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft, but no final decision was arrived at during the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe here. The two sides also discussed cooperation in maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. The Doklam standoff between India and China is also expected to have figured in the talks, though it was not mentioned in the joint statement. India has been in talks for the purchase of 12 amphibious aircraft, in a $1.30 billion deal, for the Indian Navy. Later 18 more aircraft are to be bought under the Make in India initiative.
"There is an ongoing issue on the US-2 amphibian aircraft. Those discussions continue," Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said at a media briefing after the Modi-Abe annual summit talks. Discussions on the deal for the amphibious aircraft had also figured during former Defence Minister Arun Jaitley's visit to Japan earlier this month for a bilateral dialogue on defence. The deal is said to be stuck on the issue of price, even after ShinMaywa company reduced the price to around $113 million per aircraft. The earlier price was $.1.65 billion for 12 aircraft. "Japan's readiness to provide its state-of-the-art US-2 amphibian aircraft was appreciated as symbolising the high degree of trust between the two countries. The two governments decided to continue their discussion in this regard," said the joint statement. Jaishankar added that the two sides are also looking at technology cooperation in the field of defence.
"We were really looking in terms of technology cooperation and equipment collaboration both in defence and dual use technology," he said. The two sides "commended" the "significant progress" achieved in maritime security cooperation, which the joint statement said was evidenced by the expansion in the scale and complexity of the Malabar exercise between India, US and Japan in the Bay of Bengal. Growing cooperation between the Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force in different areas, including anti-submarine aspects was discussed. "They also acknowledged the importance of bilateral cooperation in maritime security by strengthening and enhancing exchanges in expanding maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific region," the joint statement said. Asked why the South China Sea was not mentioned, Jaishankar said it is a part of the Indo-Pacific region. "In terms of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea when you are referring to Indo-Pacific, the South China Sea is a part of the Indo-Pacific. When you are referring to a full set, sub-sets are covered," Jaishankar said. "Freedom of navigation and support for unimpeded commerce is not a matter on which we have a position in reference to a particular geography. It is a principle position which applies everywhere," he said. Expansion of joint exercises and cooperation in areas like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations, and counter terrorism were discussed, and a joint exercise between the Indian Army and Japan Ground Self-Defence Force may be held in 2018. IANS