New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday expressed confidence that his visit to Japan would open a "new chapter" in bilateral relations and give a boost to their defence and security cooperation.
"I am confident that my visit will write a new chapter in the annals of relations between Asia's two oldest democracies and take our strategic and global partnership to the next higher level," Modi said in a statement on the eve of his departure Saturday.
He termed Japan "a key regional and global partner" for India and said: "Between our countries, there is only goodwill and mutual admiration."
"We will explore how Japan can associate itself productively with my vision of inclusive development in India, including the transformation of India's manufacturing, infrastructure sectors, energy and social sectors," Modi said.
"We will discuss how to boost our defence and security cooperation, including in defence technology, equipment and industry, in line with the evolving domestic policies of the two countries. I will try to accelerate progress on the unfinished agenda of projects and initiatives that our two countries have embarked upon," the prime minister said.
Modi said he was "keenly" looking forward to the visit at the invitation of "my good friend, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the annual summit", stressing this was his first bilateral visit outside India's immediate neighbourhood.
He said this underlined "the high priority" Japan has in India's foreign and economic policy, and reflected Japan's paramount importance in his vision for development and prosperity in India and in peace, stability and prosperity in Asia at large.
"Japan is one of our closest partners in political, economic, security and cultural realms. It is a key regional and global partner for us," he said.
Noting Buddhism from India had inspired Japan for over a millennium, he said: "We in India similarly draw inspiration from Japan's vanguard role as the fountainhead of Asia's modernization, resurgence and rejuvenation."
"I will begin my visit from Japan's old capital Kyoto, which is rich in heritage of our civilizations. I am deeply grateful to Prime Minister Abe for joining me there, which demonstrates a special commitment and support for the relationship."
"My visit to Kyoto reflects the ancient foundations of our contemporary relations and will also focus on some of our nation's priorities, including urban renewal and smart heritage cities as well as advanced scientific research," he said.
From Kyoto, Modi said he would go to Tokyo, where he would discuss with Abe the roadmap for "our global and strategic partnership in the years ahead".
He noted the meeting with the Japanese prime minister comes at a time of "enormous global challenges, from persisting economic weaknesses to turmoil and transitions in different parts of the world".
"I hope to exchange views with Prime Minister Abe on important regional and global developments of shared interest," he said adding he would also meet the Emperor of Japan.
"I will have an opportunity to interact with leaders across the entire political spectrum in Japan, regional leaders, captains of business and industry, friends of India in Japan as well as Indian brothers and sisters living and working in Japan," he added.
Later in an interaction with the Japanese media, Modi said defence relations constitute a strong underpinning of India's strategic and global partnership.
"We have a shared interest in working together with Japan and with other countries, to foster peace and stability in Asia and beyond. We are committed to strengthen defence exchanges and cooperation between Japan and India," he said.
"There has been significant progress in our negotiations on the civil nuclear agreement; on the US-2 amphibian aircraft; and in the field of high speed railway. It is my hope that my visit this time will pave the way for concrete cooperation on these fields," he added.