TOKYO -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed on the importance of dialogue with Japan and confirmed their plan to hold trilateral foreign ministerial talks, a move designed to check growing Chinese influence in the region.
Modi strongly advocated bringing Japan into the framework, likely out of concern that boosting bilateral security ties with the U.S. could agitate the Chinese.
Obama, on the other hand, may be aiming to pressure China economically by involving Japan. The U.S. hopes to curb China's growing territorial assertions by strengthening relations with India and Japan, two of Asia's most influential democracies with strong economic ties to China.
Japan also places an emphasis on trilateral relations with these countries, especially given China's recent expansionism in the region. In a joint statement from a Sept. 1 summit, Japan and India stated their goal to pursue trilateral dialogue with the U.S. and possibly hold talks among their foreign ministers.
The countries also aim to continue joint exercises between the U.S. and Indian navies and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Japan, India and the U.S. are among the biggest players in the Asia-Pacific and have strong relations even within multinational frameworks such as the East Asia Summit. According to the Sept. 1 joint statement, Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "noted that India and Japan are Asia's two largest and oldest democracies," stressing their ideological similarities.