NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — India and Japan have agreed to enhance defense ties in what is being seen as a clear cut message to China. The agreement was reached during the annual summit of the two countries held in India's Ahmedabad city.
The two sides have agreed to enhance defense and security cooperation and dialogues including the Malabar and other joint exercises, defense equipment and technology cooperation in areas such as surveillance and unmanned system technologies and defense industry cooperation, according to the joint statement released after the talks said.
Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also reiterated that defense and security cooperation was the major thrust area during the discussions.
"Many of the discussions revolved around strengthening defense and security cooperation. In defense and security cooperation, the thrust has been on the maritime security. We also agreed to explore cooperation and exchanges between the army and Japan's ground self-defense force, this also involved cooperation between Air Force and Japan's Air Self Defense Force. There were discussions on defense cooperation including technical cooperation, equipment cooperation and US-2 amphibian aircraft," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said during a press conference on Thursday.
Meanwhile, China has taken the development with a pinch of salt. It said India and Japan should work for a partnership instead of an alliance against another entity.
"We advocate that regional countries should stand for dialogue without confrontation and work for a partnership instead of an alliance," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a regular press briefing.
Indian experts say India's alliance with Japan, the US and Australia are indeed a major concern for China.
"Definitely, increasing defense cooperation with Japan is basically aimed at countering China. There are three areas where there is a convergence of interest between India and Japan so as to counter China is — South China Sea, Indian Ocean, and South East Asia. The fact is that China is closely watching these developments and particularly alliance of India with Japan, US and Australia," strategic affairs expert Professor Sudhir Singh told Sputnik.