- As US and Afghan officials Confirm Afghanistan IS head killed in raid
Japan and India affirmed on Monday plans to strengthen their military cooperation amid rising tension in the Asian region.
Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley told his Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada, in Tokyo that his country hopes to pursue a strategic partnership with Japan for regional peace and stability.
His visit comes at a time of rising tension in the region, including territorial rows in the South China Sea and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
Jaitley welcomed a planned trilateral naval exercise among the U.S., India and Japan in July as a way of strengthening cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.
“This is all reflective of the level of cooperation our armed forces have with each other,” he said.
Japan and India have been stepping up defense cooperation amid China’s increased assertiveness in the region.
China has long been wary of joint maritime exercises between India and the United States.
Japan, a staunch U.S. ally that hosts about 50,000 American troops, has in recent years developed military cooperation with other countries, including Australia, France, Britain and the Philippines. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to expand Japan’s defense role and capability amid security concerns over China and North Korea.
Jaitley, who is also India’s finance minister, visited Japan to attend an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank that ended Sunday.
In the meantime, the head of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib, has been killed in a military raid, US and Afghan officials have said.
He died 10 days ago in an joint special forces operation in eastern Nangarhar province, the US military said.
Hasib is believed to have been behind March’s attack on a military hospital in Kabul, killing at least 50 people.
Last month, the Pentagon said Hasib had probably been killed in a raid by US and Afghan special forces.
Two US army rangers also died in the raid, near an underground system of tunnels believed to be used by IS which were targeted by the largest conventional bomb ever used by the US.
There has been no confirmation of the death by IS.
Abdul Hasib was appointed as the leader of IS in Afghanistan last year after his predecessor was killed in a US drone strike.
He is credited with masterminding the Kabul hospital attack, although some Afghan security experts questioned whether a group still thought to be relatively small in Afghanistan could be capable of planning and carrying out such a large scale operation.
Abc with additional report from BBCa