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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Delhi
"An IT relationship of great potential but low profile"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Japan seeks stronger Indian ties
Atal Behari Vajpayee, left, and Yoshiro Mori
Nuclear non-proliferation will be an issue in Indo-Japan talks
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has said he wants a big improvement in relations with India.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since India's nuclear tests in May 1998, which led to Japanese sanctions on India.

I would like to make India-Japan relations much better than they are now

Yoshiro Mori
Mr Mori has been officially welcomed in Delhi by the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

He is in India as part of a South Asia tour, which has already taken him to Bangladesh and Pakistan.

"I would like to make India-Japan relations much better than they are now," Mr Mori said after a ceremony at the Presidential palace in Delhi.

The Japanese premier is expected to raise the issue of nuclear non-proliferation during his meeting with the Indian leader.

But he has also expressed a desire for stronger economic ties between the two countries.

Hightech hopes

On Tuesday, Mr Mori praised India's information technology skills while visiting the southern city of Bangalore.

"As partners, we should lead the world in infotech," he was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

He visited two of India's most successful IT firms, Infosys Technologies and Wipro, and said he found "good reasons here for the two countries to co-operate".

Indian computer users
Mori is interested in India's IT skills
Mr Mori said India and Japan should be working to reduce the "digital divide" in the world - the gap between the computer haves and have-nots.

He proposed a Japan-India IT promotion and co-operation initiative, which he is due to discuss with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

As part of the initiative, 1,000 Indian engineers will be allowed into Japan for training programmes over a three year period.

Those seeking to visit Japan on business have been promised multiple entry visas.

Japan will also send two missions, in October and January 2001, to discuss IT business prospects in India.

Trade ties

Japan is India's fourth-largest investor.

Trade between the two countries exceeded $4.5bn last year.

Indian atomic reactor
Japan is concerned over the nuclear programme
However, Indian software exports to Japan account for only 3.5% of the total trade.

North America, with 62% of software exports, and Europe, with 23.5% exports, are bigger IT markets for India.

Indian software industry officials hope that an IT initiative between the two countries could help the IT exports to Japan touch the billion-mark by 2003.

But trade is not the only item on the agenda.

Nuclear non-proliferation featured prominently in Mr Mori's talks with Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf on Monday.

The Japanese premier suggested that Pakistan sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and is expected to raise the issue with the Indian leadership.

Relations between Japan and both Pakistan and India soured after their nuclear tests in 1998.

Japan was critical of the tests and suspended all development aid to both countries.

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See also:

21 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mori presses Pakistan over nuclear tests
15 Apr 00 | South Asia
India at risk of tech worker shortage
19 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese PM tours South Asia
13 Mar 00 | South Asia
Murdoch eyes 'cyber' Bangalore
20 Mar 00 | South Asia
South Asia's nuclear race
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