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Thursday, November 25, 1999
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India, Japan to set up panel on disarmament

TOKYO, Nov 24 (PTI) — Signalling a thaw in bilateral relations soured after the Pokhran nuclear tests, India and Japan today agreed to set up a joint committee on disarmament even as Tokyo insisted on New Delhi signing the CTBT as a pre-condition for lifting economic sanctions.

The decision to set up the official level committee, which will also go into the entire gamut of bilateral relationship including the issue of signing the CTBT, was taken during talks visiting External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh had with Japanese Premier Keizo Obuchi and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono here.

TOKYO: Visiting Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, left, listens to Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi prior to their talks at Obuchi's official residence in Tokyo on Wednesday. Singh is on a five-day visit to Japan.

The two sides also agreed to revive India-Japan parliamentary group and establish two committees to study ways of close cooperation on the business front.

At the end of his day-long official talks, Mr Jaswant Singh, first Indian leader to visit Japan after the may 1998 nuclear explosions, told reporters he was "entirely satisfied" with his mission.

Mr Obuchi during the wide-ranging parleys told Mr Jaswant Singh that "relations between Japan and India are basically good but the nuclear issue remains a thorn in the throat. If India signs the CTBT, the thorn will be removed,’’ according to Japanese officials.

Mr Jaswant Singh said he did not raise the issue of economic sanctions, slapped by Tokyo after the Pokhran tests, but explained at great length India’s security compulsions for conducting the explosions.

The Indian Government was working to achieve maximum possible consensus on the question of signing the CTBT, he told Mr Obuchi adding that New Delhi was committed not to conduct further nuclear tests.

"We do not intend at all to destroy the non-proliferation regime" for weapons of mass destruction, he said.

Officials said Japanese reassertion on its position on CTBT was on expected lines but the focus had markedly shifted to the desire to improve bilateral ties with India.back

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