India is expanding its defense ties with Japan

 India is expanding its defense ties with Japan, anewfound strategic partner in the region, said a senior DefenceMinistry official here.

The chiefof the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal P.V. Naik, left Sept. 28 for Japanto participate in the first military-to-military talks between the twocountries. Naik's visit to Tokyo comes three months ahead of a visit toJapan by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

Naik, who is also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committeehere, will meet with Maj. Gen. Koichiro Bansho, the Japan GroundSelf-Defense Force's director-general for policy and programs. Theirtalks will include regional security issues and events in which the twoforces will participate, the Defence Ministry official said.

DuringIndian Defence Minister A.K. Antony's visit to Japan last year, the twocountries expressed their commitment to contribute to bilateral andregional cooperation, the ministry official said.

Defenseanalysts here view Indo-Japanese strategic ties as part of an effort tobuild regional partnerships to counter the growing influence of China.

Theoverdependence of Japan and India on oil imports from the Arabian Gulfand the need to jointly ensure its smooth flow is another major driverbehind the growing Indo-Japanese relationship, said defense analystMahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.

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