Bullet train deal, civil nuclear agreement on the agenda in PM Modi-Shinzo Abe talks today

NEW DELHI(PTI): Japanese premier Shinzo Abe arrived in Delhi on Friday on a three-day visit for annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which the two sides are expected to seal a Rs 98,000 crore deal for India’s first bullet train track and deliberate on a civil nuclear agreement.

Japanese premier Shinzo Abe and PM Narendra Modi

In the 9th annual Indo-Japan summit talks, the two leaders will review implementation of various decisions taken in their previous meetings and discuss ways to further boost trade and investment between the two Asian economic powers.

Welcoming Abe, Modi described him as a “phenomenal leader” and said his visit will further deepen the bilateral relations. “Welcome to India @AbeShinzo. Your visit will provide new strength and vigour to India-Japan ties,” Modi tweeted.

On his part, the visiting dignitary tweeted, “Looking forward to tomorrow’s summit meeting with @narendramodi. Together, let’s open a new age for the Japan-India relationship.”

Hours after he arrived, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Abe during which a host of issues of mutual interest figured. During the meeting, Abe welcomed resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue and her visit to Islamabad.

A number of agreements to expand cooperation in a range of areas are expected to be signed after Modi-Abe talks, likely to deliberate on a number of infrastructure projects including the ambitious smart cities initiative.

The bullet train network, set to be finalised, will link India’s financial hub Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the capital of Modi’s home state, Gujarat. Bullet trains between the two cities will cut travel time on the 505 km route from eight hours to around three.

According to sources, the sides are working to make forward movement in the proposed nuclear deal. After the talks, Abe will leave for Varanasi, which is Modi’s Parliamentary constituency, where he will attend Ganga Aarti at famous Dasaswamedh Ghat. Modi will accompany Abe during his nearly four-and-a-half-hour-long visit to Varanasi.

Abe will return here in the evening and depart on Sunday. The Japanese Prime Minister had accompanied Modi during his visit to Kyoto last year.

At the last Summit meeting held in Tokyo last year, the two prime ministers had agreed to elevate the relationship to “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”. They also had agreed to enhance defence and strategic cooperation to a new level and also decided to speed up negotiations on civil nuclear deal.

While agreeing on greater defence equipment and technology cooperation, the two sides had decided to expedite discussions on modalities for the sale of Japanese US-2 amphibian aircraft.