Japanese PM to arrive in India on Friday

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will arrive in Delhi on Friday on a three-day official visit amid expectations that an agreement would be firmed up on India’s first bullet train to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and over progress in the talks on a civil nuclear deal.

Abe, who will arrive on Friday afternoon, will hold the annual summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday following which the two leaders will issue press statements.

He will call on President Pranab Mukherjee, address the Japan-India Innovation Seminar and also meet business leaders.

Another highlight is the Japanese prime minister’s trip to Varanasi, Modi’s parliamentary constituency, on Saturday where he will attend the Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat.

At the last summit meeting held in Tokyo in 2014, the two prime ministers agreed to elevate the bilateral relationship to “special strategic and global partnership”.

Modi and Abe also met last month on the sidelines of the 13th Asean-India Summit at Kuala Lumpur and again during the Paris climate change conference.

Abe, who met Modi over lunch at Kuala Lumpur, had said that India-Japan relationship has the greatest potential of any bilateral relationship in the world.

The proposed bullet train line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would cost Rs.98,000 crore, according to a joint project feasibility study, co-financed by the Indian Railways and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said earlier this month that the Japanese government has given an assistance package proposal for Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor involving technical, operation and maintenance, and financial assistance to the tune of 81 percent of the project cost is being met through a loan.

He said that no other country has offered such support for the project which involves a 505-km long high-speed line, and is expected to cut down travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad from about seven hours to two hours.

The proposed high-speed railway had figured in Modi’s discussions with Abe during his visit to Japan last year.

Abe had expressed hope that India could introduce Japan’s Shinkansen system for the route and had expressed his readiness to provide financial, technical and operational support for the system.

There are also speculations over a civil nuclear deal for which negotiations have been going on.

India sees Japan as an important player in the nuclear energy sector with major Japanese firms manufacturing components for related equipment.

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