Breaking away from official protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday proceeded on a roadshow with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe soon after the latter's arrival here on a two-day visit.
Modi, Abe and Japan's First lady Akie Abe boarded an open jeep and proceeded from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to the historic Sabarmati Ashram as thousands of people lined up along both sides of the eight-and-half-km route cheering the two leaders.
Abe changed into a Nehru jacket from the business suit he was wearing while his wife was seen wearing a salwar kameez. As PM Modi and Abe waved to the crowds, Akie Abe took pictures around her.
After Sabarmati Ashram, the two Prime Ministers are also scheduled to visit the iconic 16th century Sidi Saiyad Mosque in the old city later in the day.
Earlier, breaking protocol, Modi personally received Abe at the airport with a warm hug.
The visiting dignbitary was accorded a Guard of Honour while artists from different parts of the country presented a variety programme.
On Thursday, Modi and Abe will participate in the ground-breaking ceremony of the ambitious Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail project at the Western Railway Athletic Stadium near Sabarmati railway station.
Thereafter, they will hold the 12th Annual Bilateral Summit in Gandhinagar following which a number of agreements are expected to be signed.
This will be the fourth annual summit between Modi and 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 being Russia.
The two Prime Ministers will also attend an India-Japan Business Leaders Forum.
China says ‘pleased’ at India-Japan rail cooperation
As New Delhi and Tokyo take forward their cooperation in building India's first bullet train, China on Wednesday said it is pleased at the development, and added that Beijing is ready to promote such infrastructure cooperation with New Delhi, including in railways, a report from Beijing said.
"China is pleased to see the infrastructure cooperation among regional countries, including the high-speed railway," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
"And we stand ready to promote cooperation with India and other regional countries to promote regional development," he added.
"As to the railway cooperation, I can tell you that it is part of political cooperation between China and India."
The Foreign Ministry's reaction comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting India on Wednesday for two days, during which he will hold annual summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and both will lay the foundation stone of the ambitious Rs 1.08 lakh crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.
China and Japan are vying with each other for developing bullet trains in India and the region.
"We have reached important consensus in this regard. According to my information, the relevant competent authorities between the two countries have mainlined communications on promoting, increasing the speed of the railway in the current projects," Geng added. IANS