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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan today began on a significant note with a pact being signed under which his constituency Varanasi will be developed as a 'smart city', with cooperation and experience of Kyoto, the Japanese 'smart city' which is a confluence of heritage and modernity.
The signing of the Partner City Affiliation MoU, which marks the launch of smart heritage city programme, between the two countries, was overseen by Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who made a special gesture of flying here from Tokyo to meet his Indian counterpart.
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 his 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, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters
This marks the launch of Smart heritage city programme between the two countries, he added. The pact is in line with Modi's vision of building 100 smart cities across India.
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