Dr Singh arrived in Japan on Sunday for a two-day visit. He will proceed to Malaysia and later Vietnam for ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits.
In Japan, the prime minister will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on issues ranging from civil nuclear energy cooperation to security cooperation and ways to enhance economic ties and joint infrastructure projects being carried out in India.
Excerpts from the prime minister's interview to Japanese media:
How crucial is Japanese nuclear technology in furthering of India's energy plans? Do you still believe that an agreement can be hammered out soon?
Developing countries like India seek new energy sources to sustain high rates of economic growth. We see nuclear energy as a vital component of our global energy mix. Our nuclear industry is poised for a major expansion and there will be huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate in the expansion of India's nuclear energy programme.
We would like Japan to be our partner in this initiative. We are aware of the advanced capabilities of Japanese firms in this field and the important role they play in the global supply chain. We are negotiating an agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with Japan. I am confident that we will be able to conclude an agreement which will be a win-win proposition for both of us. We have not laid down any deadline for concluding these negotiations.
Japan said that it will annul nuclear cooperation if India goes for another nuclear test. Does India agree with this condition? How does India rate its nuclear non-proliferation record? Can India sign NPT?
Since negotiations are continuing on the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, I do not wish to comment on specific details. Both countries would benefit from an agreement that provides a long-term and stable basis of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This will contribute towards our energy security requirements and will also help in the global efforts to combat climate change.
India's position on the NPT is well-known. India has an impeccable non-proliferation record which has been recognized by the international community. We are committed to maintaining our unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. India has been steadfast in its support for global and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework. We are ready to work with Japan and other like minded countries in realizing the vision of a nuclear weapon free world.
In recent days, China has had friction with Japan and other South East Asian countries. Will India counter Chinese aggressiveness or accept it as a reasonable phenomenon?
The Asian region is witnessing an unprecedented period of sustained economic growth in recent years. Countries in the region are engaged in improving standards of living of their people, and overcoming the effects of the global economic downturn. We all are trying to respond and readjust to global trends towards multi-polarity and managing the regional environment in Asia in a manner which enhances peace, security and overall development of our societies.
It is incumbent on all countries of the region to build cooperative partnerships and work towards an open and inclusive regional architecture.Inter-state relations must be based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence. It is in this context that we also approach our relations with China, with whom we have established a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership.
What is India's stance on UNSC reforms and to become a permanent member?
The reform of the United Nations Security Council to reflect contemporary global realities is an integral part of the ongoing UN reform process. The proposal led by the G-4 countries for reform of the Security Council, including by expansion of its permanent and non-permanent membership and improvement in its working methods, enjoys a high degree of support and acceptance among the UN members.
Early reforms are of utmost importance to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the Council.
What can India contribute towards solution of the Afghan conflict? Would you like to deepen dialogue with Pakistan to improve bilateral ties and peace in Afghanistan?
Our links with Afghanistan are historic and civilisational, spanning several centuries. We have an interest in a stable, secure and peaceful Afghanistan, which can pursue its nation building efforts free from outside interference.
We welcome the role of the international community in supporting the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. On our part, we have pledged more than US $ 1.3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan. Our assistance is Afghan-led and Afghan owned and lays particular stress on capacity building and human resource development. It has been widely welcomed by common people across that country and we will continue with it.Pakistan has an important contribution to make in Afghanistan by denying support and sanctuary to terrorist and extremist groups that are working against the interests of the Afghan people, and by allowing the people of Afghanistan to determine their destiny freely and independently.