Japan's PM Shinzo Abe arrives in Ahmedabad for annual dialogue with Modi

Modi, Abe in roadshow from Ahmedabad airport to Sabarmati Ashram
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived here today on a two-day official visit to India during which  he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit at Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, and set the future direction for the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.
This will be the fourth annual summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe, during which the two leaders will review the recent progress in the multi-facted bilateral cooperation.
Mr. Modi dispensed with protocol to personally receive Mr. Abe and his wife Akie when they landed here this afternoon in his home state. Mr. Modi welcomed Mr. Abe with a hug before the Japanese Prime Minister inspected a guard of honour at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.
From the airport, Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe travelled in an open jeep in a motorcade along an eight km route to the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Along the way, students and artistes staged cultural performances at different points, highlighting the rich and diverse cultural traditions of the country. This was the first time that two Prime Ministers have participated in such a road show.
Mr. Abe and his wife changed into Indian attire for the road show -- with the Japanese Prime Minister wearing a royal blue Nehru jacket and Ms. Abe dressed in a pink silk kurta.
Mr. Abe and his wife, accompanied by Mr. Modi, also visited the iconic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque here, built in 1573, and noted for its beautifully carved ten latticework windows (Jalis) on the side and rear arches.
The two bays flanking the central aisle have reticulated stone slabs carved in designs of intertwined trees and foliage and a palm motif. This intricately carved lattice stone window is the Sidi Saiyyed Jali, the unofficial symbol of city of Ahmedabad and the inspiration for the design of the logo of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad.
Mr. Modi explained the history and the importance of the mosque to Mr. Abe. The two Prime Ministers also posed for photographs in front of the monument.
Later in the evening, Mr. Modi hosted dinner for the Japanese leader and his wife at a heritage hotel here. The fare was vegetarian and a mix of Japanese and Gujarati dishes.
The India-Japan Summit will be held tomorrow at the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The two leaders will deliver statements to the media. An India Japan Business Plenary is also scheduled tomorrow.
The highlight of the visit will be a public function to mark the commencement of work on India’s first high-speed rail project, based on Japanese technology, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, tomorrow. The train is expected to significantly reduce travel time between the two cities. Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, and its Shinkansen bullet train is among the fastest in the world.
The $ 16.87 billion bullet train project will be 81 percent funded by Japan through a concessional long-term loan. The bullet train is expected to cut the 500 km journey from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, to just 2 to 3 hours as compared to the 7-8 hours it takes now.
Mr. Abe will not be visiting New Delhi on this trip, with all his engagements confined to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.
In September 2014, Mr. Modi had hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad.


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