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Indo-Pacific partnership: India-Japan explore new projects for Northeast

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New Delhi: India and Japan held the fifth joint meeting of the India-Japan Act East Forum (AEF) on Thursday to give a push to connectivity projects and other development & capacity building initiatives as part of their Indo-Pacific partnership.

The meeting was co-chaired by Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary, and Suzuki Satoshi, Ambassador of Japan to India.

The AEF reviewed progress of ongoing projects in the North Eastern Region of India in various areas including connectivity, hydropower, sustainable development, harnessing of water resources, and skill development, according to officials.

They discussed several new projects being undertaken under India-Japan bilateral cooperation and also exchanged views on cooperation in new areas such as healthcare, agro-industries and SMEs, bamboo value chain development, smart city, tourism and people-to-people exchanges, officials added.

Foreign Secretary and the Japanese Ambassador appreciated the role played by the AEF since its establishment in 2017 in streamlining India-Japan bilateral cooperation for the modernization of the North Eastern Region.

AEF provides a platform for India-Japan collaboration in the North Eastern Region under India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.

Japan attaches a great importance to the cooperation for the development of India’s North East, anchored by its historical ties, trust and friendship, an official said.

“The North East stands on a place strategically important to realise a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific; and Japan is proud to have been a partner with the people of North East in their aspirations for a better and sustainable future. Japan is the only country which has an independent framework for discussing the development of India’s North East and the one at such a high-level,” a Japanese official said.

Japan has been actively providing assistance to various projects in the region. The ongoing ODA projects supported by Japan amounts to more than 231 billion yen(appx. INR 1,600 crore).

The AEF has been a driving force to coalesce the developmental efforts of India, its North Eastern regionand Japan. The AEF provides guidance for the joint actions between Japan and India, as well as with the North Eastern region. In today’s meeting, such key areas as road connectivity, health (including water and sanitation), forest conservation and people-to-people exchanges were covered to pursue further collaborations.

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