Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is planning to visit New Delhi in late April as Tokyo looks to strengthen ties with India to counter China’s aggressive behaviour on maritime and territorial issues, the Japanese media has reported.

Suga will have extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reaffirm cooperation with India and other countries over Tokyo’s vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region.

The exact dates for Suga’s visit were being finalised through diplomatic channels though a final decision would depend on the Covid-19 situation, sources in New Delhi confirmed.

The visit will be significant against the backdrop of the recent virtual summit of the four ‘Quad’ countries in which Suga and Modi were joined by US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Lately, the Quad has become the focus of efforts to counter China’s growing economic and military influence. The ‘Quad’ countries had also held the Malabar joint naval exercises last November in a show of force.

China is wary of the ‘Quad’ as it believes the grouping wants to contain its growing influence in global affairs.

Suga had met his Australian counterpart in November and is slated to visit the US for talks with President Biden next week, and is apparently seeking to further solidify the Quad framework by meeting with Modi.

India and Japan have also strengthened bilateral security ties in recent years, signing a military pact last September allowing them to exchange supplies and logistical support. Suga and Modi are expected to discuss further tie-ups in outer space and cybersecurity, as well as cooperation on infrastructure projects and other economic issues.