Ahmedabad: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening and was treated to a warm hug from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Japnese PM, accompanied by his wife Akie Abe, is on a two-day visit to India, to attend the annual summit between the two countries.
Immediately after the welcome ceremony, Abe, his wife, and Modi set-off on an 8 kilometer roadshow in an open-roof jeep for the Sabarmati Ashram where apostle of peace Mahatma Gandhi spent considerable time of his life.
Abe, who was in a formal suit when he arrived at the Ahmedabad airport, wore kurta-pyjama and a blue Nehru jacket, while his wife donned a red salwar-kameez and a white stole to Sabarmati Ashram.
The two leaders repeatedly waved to the crowds that lined up the streets as performers presented traditional dance enroute.
At the Sabarmati Ashram set up by Mahatma Gandhi, Abe and his wife paid homage to the Father of the Nation.
Modi was seen explaining to the visiting dignitaries, the significance of the spinning wheel, which became emblematic of India's quest for self-reliance during its non-violent struggle for freedom from imperial rule.
It was for the first time that Modi held a joint road show with a visiting head of government of a foreign country, reflecting the close bonding he shares with Abe.
Modi and the visiting dignitaries then visited 'Sidi Saiyyid Ni Jaali’, the famous 16th century mosque in Ahmedabad.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the visitor's book at Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram in Japanese.
However, the highlight of Abe’s fourth visit to India is on Thursday when the Japanese Prime Minister will lay the foundation for India’s first bullet train to run between Mumbai and Sabarmati.
Japan is paying for 81 per cent of the project cost through a soft loan which will be paid back by the Railway Ministry at an interest rate of 0.01 per cent over 15 years.
Abe was accorded a ceremonial reception on his arrival at the Ahmedabad Airport, on Wednesday.
Cultural performances continued as Modi and Abe headed towards the Sabarmati Ashram to take tour of Hridaykunj.
Abe will undertake a two-day official visit to India from Wednesday to hold the annual India-Japan Summit with Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar, the capital of the Prime Minister's home state Gujarat.
"I look forward to welcoming PM @AbeShinzo. I will be hosting him in Gujarat in our fourth annual summit together," Modi tweeted Wednesday in English as well as in Japanese.
"PM @AbeShinzo and I will attend a wide range of programmes on 13th and 14th September 2017, aimed at further boosting India-Japan ties," he added.
In another tweet, he said the two leaders would attend a programme to mark the start of work of India's first high-speed rail project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
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.
Modi and Abe will review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their 'Special Strategic and Global Partnership' and will set its future direction.
On Thursday, Abe and Modi will attend the ground breaking ceremony for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, commonly referred to as the Bullet Train project.
Later that day, both the premiers will hold the 12th India-Japan annual summit at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.