India's PM Modi pushes back trip to Japan, says official

India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has postponed a visit to Japan which had been expected to take place early next month, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, June 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has postponed a visit to Japan which had been expected to take place early next month, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, June 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has postponed a visit to Japan which had been expected to take place early next month, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"The dates we were looking at for the visit in early July will now be reworked after PM Modi wrote to PM (Shinzo) Abe," ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters in New Delhi.

Although no reason was given for the delay, reports in the Indian media said Mr Modi wanted to push back his departure until after his government's first budget which is expected to be introduced in parliament in the second week of July.

The spokesman said that Mr Modi remains "very keen to visit Japan" and has written to Mr Abe to discuss alternative dates.

While Mr Modi did visit India's tiny neighbour Bhutan last weekend, his visit to Tokyo would have been his first trip to a major foreign capital since his landslide election in May.

The right-wing Mr Modi has often been compared to Mr Abe, as both are staunch nationalists who were elected to office on pledges to revive their countries' economic fortunes.

Both countries also have a history of territorial disputes with China, although Mr Modi has insisted that Beijing and Delhi should be "natural partners" rather than rivals.