Kyoto: Varanasi, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents in the Lok Sabha, will be developed into a 'smart city' by using the experience of Kyoto, the 'smart city' of Japan, under a pact signed here on Saturday.
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. In a special gesture, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe flew to Kyoto to receive Modi there.
The MoU, which was signed soon after Modi's arrival here 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.
Earlier, amid "great expectations", the Indian prime minister embarked on a visit to Japan which is expected to open new vistas in the bilateral ties and take the Strategic and Global Partnership to a higher level.
On his first bilateral visit outside the subcontinent as the Prime Minister, Modi has a substantive agenda during the five-day trip which he hopes will "write a new chapter" in the bilateral relations and cooperation in the fields of defence, civil nuclear and infrastructure besides commerce.
Underlining the importance of the visit, the "excited" Modi said on the eve of the trip that Japan has "paramount importance" in his vision for India's development and progress.
The two leaders 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. India has "great expectations" from the visit, the External Affairs Ministry has said.
Cooperation in the fields of defence, civil nuclear, infrastructure development and rare earth materials is expected to top the agenda of the discussions. Some agreements, including in defence and civil nuclear sectors, are expected to be signed. Among the agreements to be signed is one on joint production of rare earth materials.
"I am keenly looking forward to my visit to Japan at the invitation of my good friend, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the annual summit between India and Japan," Modi said in his pre-departure statement.
Noting that this will be his first bilateral visit outside the immediate neighbourhood as Prime Minister, he said it underlines "the high priority" that Japan receives in India's foreign and economic policies.