AHMEDABAD: PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart arrived in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad today.The visit is seen as an effort to cement ties between India and Japan. After ending their first-of-its-kind roadshow from the city’s airport to the iconic monument Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, the prime ministers visited the historic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque which was built in 1573 under the regime of the last Sultanate of Gujarat. Mr Abe is on a two-day visit to India and will lay the foundation stone for India’s first bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad tomorrow. For his grand welcome, the twin cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar are decked up with streets shimmering in fluorescent lights, and hoardings and banners dotting them.

PM Modi, Shinzo Abe visit the historic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque

PM Modi, Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe visited the famous Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad after their visit to the Sabarmati Ashram, where they paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi. The mosque is a symbol of a time when Gujarat dwelled and prospered under Muslim rule. It was built in 1573 under the regime of the last Sultanate of Gujarat

The two leaders had got into an open-top Gypsy decorated with flowers for the 9-km roadshow. Along the route, 28 huge stages were built on which schoolchildren held performances highlighting India’s varied culture.
From Sabarmati Ashram, the leaders headed for ‘Sidi Saiyyid Ni Jaali’, a 16th Century yellow sandstone mosque in eastern Ahmedabad famous for its intricate latticework.

The day’s programmes will conclude with dinner at Ahmedabad’s famous Agashiye terrace restaurant, where PM Modi will host Mr and Mrs Abe. The restaurant, known for its splendid view and kosher Gujarati cuisine, has prepared a vegetarian thali menu which also includes sushi and PM Modi’s favourite dish “Handvo”.

This morning, in a tweet, PM Modi thanked the Japanese Prime Minister, who in statement ahead of the visit said, “Prime Minister Modi is a strong leader with an outstanding ability to get things done”.

The highlight of PM Abe’s visit is tomorrow — a public function to mark the beginning of work on India’s first high-speed rail project, popularly called the bullet train. About 10,000 people are expected to attend.

“In November last year, I accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a visit to a Japanese Shinkansen rolling stock factory… It gives me great joy to know those Shinkansen trains will operate on Indian soil under the Mumbai Ahmedabad high speed rail project,” Mr Abe said in his message.

The 508-km rail project, which will cost an estimated Rs.1,10,000 crore, is expected to be completed by 2022-2023. A chunk of the expenditure will come from Rs. 88,000 crore Japanese loan on a minimal, 0.1 per cent interest, which India has 50 years to repay.

At the 12th annual summit, the two leaders will review the progress in the “multifaceted cooperation” and set the future direction for the special strategic partnership.

This will be the fourth annual summit between PM Modi and Mr Abe, where they are expected to review the progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their Special Strategic and Global Partnership.

Japan is one of only two countries with which India has such an annual summit mechanism. The other nation is Russia.