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Government proposes Abe-Modi summit in Guwahati

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. File   | Photo Credit: AP

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At present, Japan has agreed to fund nine ongoing projects and three new ODA projects in northeastern States.

The government is planning to showcase the development in the northeast region, and in particular, the 12 projects funded by Japan (Overseas Development Assistance or ODA) when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in India for the 14th India-Japan annual summit next month. Clearance from Japan on plans for him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to travel to Guwahati and Imphal is awaited.

“We have just been told that the summit is likely to take place in mid-December and that our Prime Minister wants his Japanese counterpart to experience the best of local traditions involving as many ethnic communities as possible,” the Assam government spokesperson told The Hindu.

Last week, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had led a team of the MEA and security officials to conduct a reconnaisance of likely venues including a colonial-era bungalow, a river cruise on the Brahmaputra and the Imphal Peace Museum at the Red Hill. On Monday, Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also held a review meeting with the officials of the Guwahati Development Department (GDD), which oversees two major projects funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — a ₹1,178.75-crore sewerage and a ₹1,450-crore water supply project in the Assam capital.

Officials said following a report submitted after Mr. Gokhale’s visit, the Japanese embassy officials will travel to Assam and Manipur before making a final decision. A Japanese official had last week confirmed that the government was keen on making India’s “eastern region” the venue for the summit for Mr. Abe, who had travelled during previous summits to Varanasi and Ahmedabad. Other officials said Mr. Modi himself had made the pitch to travel to the northeast “at least once in your life” during his Mann ki Baat radio broadcast this Sunday, as a sign of the government’s focus on the region’s development.

At present, Japan has agreed to fund nine ongoing projects and three new ODA projects in Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland. In particular, Japan’s assistance in building the northeast road project will be highlighted as a way of connecting India to its eastern neighbours Myanmar and Bangladesh, and part of the government’s “Act East” policy.

Officials said the visit to the Imphal Peace Museum, if finalised, would be of short duration — from the airport to the site about 10 km away and back. Among the exhibits in the museum, inaugurated in June and handed over by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, is a calligraphy work done personally by Mr. Abe. It reads ‘heiwa’ meaning peace in Japanese.

The Nippon Foundation had funded the museum to mark the 75th anniversary of the battles against the British-led Allied forces around Imphal and Kohima from March to June 1944 during the World War II. Some 70,000 Japanese soldiers died alongside those of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in the battles.

A government spokesperson said the Centre’s representatives had told the State officials not to provide details about any meeting on the upcoming visit that would be “finalised four days before the itinerary is fixed after a Japanese team makes a survey” and assesses the preparation.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:05:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-proposes-abe-modi-summit-in-guwahati/article30101221.ece

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