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Modi Meets Japanese PM In Laos

In his address to the ASEAN-India Summit, Modi called sea lanes as 'life lines of global trade' and said securing seas was a shared responsibility

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe after arriving in Vientiane, Laos, and discussed ways to strengthen strategic bilateral ties.

"Discussing stronger ties with Japan...PM Narendra Modi meets Japan PM Shinzo Abe," the Prime Minister's Office tweeted as the almost 45 minutes-long bilateral talks began.

Modi attended the 14th ASEAN India Summit and 11th East Asia summit on Thursday. He will also have bilaterals with leaders of Myanmar and South Korea. There could be more "pull aside" talks with leaders, officials said.

This is Modi's second meeting with Abe in less than six months. They had met on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April.

Earlier, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that the two leaders are likely to discuss cooperation in the defence sector.

Japan's maritime self-defence force and the Indian and US navies conducted Malabar joint maritime security exercises in June and Japanese and Indian defence ministers agreed in July to repeat the joint drill next year.

The leaders are also expected to discuss investment and other economic cooperation, the report said.

South China Sea
Modi held bilateral talks with his Laotian counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith and discussed regional developments including the South China Sea issue.

The two sides shared the same perspective on South China Sea, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

In his address to the ASEAN-India Summit, Modi called sea lanes as "life lines of global trade" and said securing seas was a shared responsibility.

He added that India supports freedom of navigation based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The comments come amid China's muscle flexing in the disputed South China Sea and "emerging regional challenges" as Beijing is involved in a raging dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei over ownership of territory in the South China Sea (SCS), a busy waterway through which India's 50 per cent trade passes.

China has also objected in the past to India's Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) undertaking exploration at the invitation of Vietnam in the SCS, which is believed to be rich in undersea deposits of oil and gas.

India and the US have been calling for freedom of passage in the international waters, much to the discomfort to Beijing, whose claim over SCS was recently struck down by an international tribunal in favour of the Philippines.

Modi held parleys with the Laos premier on the sidelines of the meetings.

Sisoulith said his country supported India as a permanent member of a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council.

The two leaders agreed to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in a befitting manner.

Modi said he was especially happy to be in Vientiane at a time when India and Laos are celebrating the anniversary.

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diplomacy narendra modi shinzo abe asean Laos

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