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Japanese PM flags off India visit with a hug and a roadshow

PM Narendra Modi receives Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe at the Ahmedabad Airport. Photograph: (ANI)

WION Web Team Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India Sep 13, 2017, 01.11 PM (IST)

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off his two-day trip to India with a visit to Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram on Wednesday (September 13). He was accompanied by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who accompanied him and his wife Akie on a road-show to the iconic historical monument.

Their next stop was the city's famous Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, popularly called "Sidi Saiyyid ki Jaali". This was PM Modi's first visit to the mosque. 

The Japanese PM will lay the foundation stone for India's first bullet train in Ahmedabad on September 14.

The 500-km-long high-speed train will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad and is the centerpiece of PM Modi's efforts to showcase India's ability to build cutting-edge infrastructure.

"Economic cooperation is the cornerstone of the relationship between Japan and India. In November last year, I accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a visit to a Japanese Shinkansen rolling stock factory and introduced him to the ingenious technology that Japan boasts to the world. It gives me great joy to know those Shinkansen trains will operate on Indian soil under the Mumbai Ahmedabad high-speed rail project," the Japanese PM said in a written message.

Ties between India and Japan have blossomed as Modi and Abe increasingly see eye-to-eye in countering China's growing dominance across Asia.

Shinzo Abe's trip is expected to further deepen diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The consolidation of ties comes days after New Delhi ended a dangerous military confrontation with China, and highlights an early lead for Japan in a sector where the Chinese have also been trying to secure a foothold, but without much success.

The Japanese PM and the first lady were welcomed by PM Modi as soon as they touched down at the Ahmedabad airport. The Indian PM broke protocol to personally meet Japanese PM Modi on the airport tarmac.

Ahmedabad was all decked up for the visit of the two leaders. Billboards with photos of Modi and Abe shaking hands and national flags of the two countries lined the Gujarat capital.

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