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Abe and Modi talk teamwork on open Indo-Pacific

Japanese and Indian leaders also seek common front on North Korea

MANILA -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed here Tuesday to jointly pursue a free and open Indo-Pacific region as well as address the North Korea issue.

Modi expressed a willingness to partner up on Abe's Indo-Pacific strategy, which espouses cooperation on maritime security and infrastructure development by countries that share the principles of the rule of law and the market economy. Japan, the U.S., India and Australia are envisioned leading the effort.

Abe laid out plans to help increase connectivity in South Asia, particularly India, through investment backed by the Japanese government in high-quality infrastructure. The two leaders agreed to work toward tangible projects in such areas as building road networks and railways.

On North Korea, Abe emphasized the need to apply the utmost pressure to prod Pyongyang into abandoning nuclear and missile development. Modi described North Korea as a threat to the region and stressed the need to follow through on United Nations sanctions against it.

Abe and Modi spoke for 40 minutes on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. The talks marked their first since a September meeting in western India and their 11th overall as prime ministers.

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