Shinzo Abe visit: To check China's influence, Japan and India fortify relationship

From mosque visit to bullet train Modi Abe to skip Delhi for cultural diplomacy in Gujarat

India and Japan today signed an agreement that will allow their airlines to operate an unlimited number of flights between the two countries.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday inaugurated India's first bullet train project - a $19 billion (Dh69.8 billion) line in the home state of Indian leader Narendra Modi which is meant to revitalise the country's vast but dilapidated railway network.

The new train with a capacity to carry 750 passengers is a bright hope for the world's fourth largest network by track length.

Japan, which is providing 85 per cent of the cost of the new train link in soft loans, will also facilitate transfer of technology through training of local engineers.

Mr Modi has pledged to invest billions of dollars to modernise India's creaking railway system that remains the main form of travel for millions. The prime ministers of the two countries also laid the foundation stone for an institute that will come up at Vadodara where around 4,000 people will be trained for the bullet train project.

India and Japan also underlined the importance of all countries ensuring the development and use of connectivity infrastructure in an open, transparent and non-exclusive manner based on global standards and responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment.

"They want to encourage themselves by calling for India's alliance with the United States and Japan to showcase India's strategic potential to China".

"Japan can benefit tremendously with the size and scale of our potentials and skilled hands that India offers".

India also has an open sky agreement with the U.S., among other countries.

According to the statement, Modi and Abe appreciated the cooperation between Japan and northeastern India, ranging from key infrastructure such as road connectivity, electricity, water supply and sewage, to social and environmental sustainability such as afforestation and community empowerment, as well as people-to-people exchanges, including inviting youth from the the Northeast to Japan. He did make a pointed reference that the North Korea crisis highlighted the need to remember "backward linkages" to its missile and nuclear programme - a pointer to China as much as Pakistan.

India and Japan signed 15 agreements after the talks, one of which was to create an Act East Forum. "They shared the desire to further promote cooperation and collaboration in Africa in line with the priority measures identified through the India-Japan dialogue on Africa and the processes of the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) and Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD)".

Abe's two-day visit to Ahmadabad comes ahead of Modi's 67th birthday on Sunday. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the city in Gujarat where Modi was once the Chief Minister.

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