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Modi, Abe strike chord, India hopes ties reach full potential
Saturday August 30, 2014 10:59 PM, IANS

Warmth, mutual admiration and convergence of views marked the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe Saturday as India hoped the two sides would strive to achieve in five years the unrealised potential of five decades.

Modi Japan visit
[Varanasi- Kyoto Partner City agreement signed in the presence of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe in Kyoto, Japan on Aug 30, 2014]

Modi, who reached Kyoto Saturday at the beginning of his five-day visit to Japan, was accorded a warm welcome with the two prime ministers warmly hugging each other in a reflection of the warmth of their personal bonding.

Abe later hosted a traditional Japanese dinner for Modi in the Imperial Guest House in Kyoto.

Their discussion, lasting for over one and a half hours, was "exceptionally warm and friendly", a PMO statement said, adding that it was marked by a "great deal of mutual respect and admiration and convergence of views".

Describing Japan as "one of India's closest and most important partners", Modi spoke about his own admiration for the country and his high hopes from the relationship.

Abe spoke "with great enthusiasm and strong conviction" about India and the importance of bilateral relations for Japan and the region. He expressed confidence that India's economic transformation would gather strong momentum under Modi.

He also said an economically resurgent India would be of great strategic importance to the region and the world, and an inspiration for democratic forces around the world.

The Japanese prime minister, in a special gesture, flew down to Kyoto to receive Modi. Soon after Modi's arrival, the two leaders fed fish in keeping with the tradition in Japan.

The discussions covered economic issues and the opportunities that both countries had to seize - presented by their respective strong political mandates - to inject new momentum and energy in their economies.

The two leaders also had an "extensive and candid" exchange of views on regional and global developments and saw "in their remarkable convergence of views a great opportunity to work together for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the world."

Earlier, a partnership agreement was inked between Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and Kyoto, which was capital of Japan for over 1,000 years.

The partnership, focussing on how to preserve heritage while building smart cities, was signed between Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa and India's Ambassador to Japan Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, said ministry of external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

Kyoto had been included in Modi's schedule as it dovetails into his emphasis on rejuvenation of cities while preserving their cultural heritage. The Hindu holy city of Varanasi is part of Modi's Lok Sabha constituency.

During their dinner meeting, the two prime ministers spoke about the ancient cultural and religious links between the countries which were not known widely, noting the start of Modi's visit from Kyoto highlighted the spiritual foundations of India-Japan relations.

Modi, who is making his first bilateral sojourn outside South Asia since he took office in May, observed that the India-Japan relationship was far below potential and expressed the hope that the two sides would strive to achieve in five years the unrealised potential of five decades.

He also said that a strong India-Japan partnership was important not just for the economic benefits to the two countries, but even more as a force of good for the region and the world.

He also mentioned his plan to visit Centre for iPS Cell Research in Kyoto as part of his desire to seek advanced solutions through stem cell research for health challenges in India.

Modi is scheduled to visit Toji temple, which symbolises the confluence of Indian and Japanese civilisational commonalities regarding Buddhism, Sunday.

From Kyoto, he travels to Tokyo, where he would discuss with Abe the roadmap for the mutual global and strategic partnership in the years ahead.

India is keen on early conclusion of the civil nuclear agreement with Japan, which will facilitate supply of its nuclear technology. With the Modi government evincing interest in bullet trains, the issue is likely to figure in discussions.

Negotiations are also underway for sale of Japan's US-2 amphibious aircraft to India.

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