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India, Japan sign MoU to develop Varanasi into a 'smart city' like Kyoto

Aug 30, 2014 05:09 PM IST India India

Kyoto: India and Japan on Saturday signed an agreement to develop the age-old Varanasi city using the experience of Kyoto, the 'smart city' of Japan, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

Varanasi, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents in the Lok Sabha, will be developed into a 'smart city' on the Kyoto model.

A Partner City MoU was signed by Indian Ambassador Deepa Wadhwa and Kyoto Mayor Daisaka Kadokawa at a ceremony witnessed by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

The MoU, which was signed soon after Modi's arrival in Japan, on a five-day visit, provides for cooperation in heritage conservation, city modernisation and cooperation in the fields of art, culture and academics, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.

This will serve as framework for Smart heritage city programme between the two countries, he added. Kyoto, which is a heritage city with Buddhist culture, provides special symbolism to the visit as the Prime Minister has the vision of "rejuvenating" Indian cities.

Under the MoU, a detailed roadmap of cooperation will be prepared which will form the base for further understanding.

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

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" would 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 because of the belief that it gives 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
the Prime Minister.

Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have substantive summit meeting in Tokyo on September 1 during which the two sides will look at ways to take the Strategic and Global Partnership forward.

Modi has a substantive agenda during the trip which he hopes will "write a new chapter" in bilateral ties and take the Strategic and Global Partnership to a higher level.