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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A broader Asia, that broke away geographical boundaries, is now beginning to take a distinct form

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times New Delhi, August 23, 2007
Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday advocated a quadrilateral grouping comprising India, Japan, Australia and the US, which aims at strategic and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Addressing MPs in Parliament, Abe said the network would result in a region called “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” along the outer rim of the Eurasian continent as Japan and India pursue common interests.
Abe said the “open and transparent” network — that has already raised Chinese concerns — would span the entirety of the Pacific Ocean to be called “broader Asia” and allow “people, goods, capital and knowledge to flow freely”.
“Japan has rediscovered India in the recent years... A strong India is in the best interest of Japan, and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India.”
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his address in Parliament
Beijing perceives the formation of the bloc as a move to contain its influence in East Asia and the 10-nation Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Indian Leftists, who are also opposed to the idea and dubbed it the Asian version of the US-led NATO, listened as Abe spoke of it and closer ties between Japan and India in defence, security and economic fields. In fact, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury was later seen at a function organised by India Center Foundation to felicitate Abe.
Though Abe did not mention the word “nuclear”, he promised to help India in the field of energy. Co-operation in nuclear energy is expected to dominate the agenda of talks as New Delhi is seeking Tokyo’s support in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to get the backing for the nuclear deal with the US.
“A broader Asia, that broke away geographical boundaries, is now beginning to take a distinct form,” Abe said. He favoured the early conclusion of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with India.

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