India, Japan, US discuss issues of mutual interest

Washington: Against the backdrop of increased Chinese military manoeuvres in the Asia-Pacific region, India, Japan and the US held their first-ever trilateral dialogue here and discussed a wide range of regional and global issues of mutual interest.

"These discussions mark the beginning of a series of consultations among our three governments, who share common values and interests across the Asia-Pacific and the globe," said a joint statement issued by the three countries at the conclusion of the day-long meeting here Monday evening.

The dialogue took place amid heightened tensions between China and the Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines over the issue of sovereignty over the resource-rich South China Sea.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell co-chaired the meeting, in which India was represented by Joint Secretaries Jawed Ashraf and Gautam Bambwale.

"All sides welcomed the frank and comprehensive nature of the discussions, and agreed the talks help advance their shared values and interests," the statement said.

The group agreed to meet again in Tokyo in 2012 to continue their deliberations.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba highlighted the need to deepen the strategic partnership with India.

"On India, as the Secretary (of State) suggested, we affirmed that Japan and the United States are deepening strategic relationship with India," Gemba told reporters at the joint press conference with Clinton.

Last week in an interview to the PTI, Campbell had said the idea that the trilateral dialogue was aimed at China`s containment was "preposterous".

"We believe that there are new operational concepts that link the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean, we want to talk about the manifestations of that, both in terms of maritime security and other aspects of commerce and security interactions and we would talk about developments among all the key countries in the Asia-Pacific region," Campbell had said.