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India, Japan sign MoU to turn Varanasi into a ‘smart city’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan began on a significant note on Saturday, with an agreement being signed to develop his constituency, Varanasi, as a ‘smart city’ in cooperation with Kyoto.

Kyoto, Japan’s ‘smart city’, is known for its confluence of heritage and modernity.

The signing of the Partner City Affiliation MoU (memorandum of understanding), which marks the launch of the smart heritage city programme between the two nations, was overseen by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who came here from Tokyo to meet Modi.

The pact was signed by Indian Ambassador to Japan Deepa Wadhwa and Mayor of Kyoto Daisaku Kadokawa soon after Modi’s arrival here for his two-day first leg of the visit. Abe received Modi at the Kyoto Guest House before the signing ceremony.

The MoU provides for cooperation in heritage conservation, city modernisation and cooperation in the fields of art, culture and academics, said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for the external affairs ministry.

Saturday’s pact is in line with Modi’s vision of building 100 smart cities across India. Under the MoU, a detailed road map of cooperation would be prepared that will form the base for further understanding.

Both cities shall endeavour to strengthen exchanges and cooperate in the agreed fields, based on principles of equality and mutual respect and benefit and continuously exchange information and opinion in the agreed areas.

After the signing of the pact, Abe hosted a dinner for Modi, who has embarked on the visit with “great expectations” and hope that a “new chapter” will be written in the bilateral ties while taking the Strategic and Global Partnership to a higher level.

Before the dinner, Modi and Abe participated in a special ceremony called ‘Feeding the Fish’, a ritual in Japan that is supposed to give strength and perseverance to the fish.

Modi arrived at the Osaka International Airport earlier in the day to begin the first leg of his five-day visit to Japan, his first bilateral visit outside the subcontinent as prime minister.Modi and Abe will on September 1 have substantive summit meeting in Tokyo, where the two sides will look at ways to take the Strategic and Global Partnership forward.


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