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Politics

Japan, France eyeing defense deal

TOKYO -- The Japanese and French governments will hold talks as early as March to work out an agreement on promoting weapons exports and joint development.

     Their defense and foreign ministers will meet here, with an official signing expected soon after.

     Aside from underwater drones, the two sides are interested in developing robots that can work in radioactive environments. Bringing together the two nations' technologies is expected to facilitate development.       

     The agreement will obligate each side to implement strict controls of imported weapons to prevent them from reaching countries involved in conflicts. The two governments will have to consent in advance to transferring technologies to a third-party country or using the equipment for purposes not originally agreed on.

     France has previously supplied weapons to China, which is making maritime advances in the East China Sea.

     "Collaboration on weapons must come with cooperation in monitoring their transfers to third countries," an official at Japan's defense ministry said. The two countries' leaders agreed last May to enter into talks on the agreement.

     Japan is pursuing similar agreements with friendly nations following the easing of its long-standing ban on weapons exports and has already deals in place with the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.

(Nikkei)

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