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Modi, Abe unveil first bullet train project

Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Thursday launched India's first bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Modi described the ambitious Rs 1.10 lakh crore project, which will cut travel time between the two cities from seven hours to less than three, as a "big gift from Japan to India".
Addressing crowds gathered at the Athletics Stadium in Sabarmati for the event, Abe said the Indo-Japan partnership was special, strategic and global.
"A strong India is in Japan's interest and a strong Japan is in India's interest," Abe said after the two leaders pressed a button, unveiling a plaque.
"My good friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a far-sighted leader. He took a decision two years ago to bring high-speed train in India and to create a new India," he said.
The Japanese prime minister added that he hoped to enjoy the "beautiful scenery of India through the windows of the bullet train' when he returns in a few years.
Congratulating the people of India, Modi said this was "a bold step towards realising an old dream of a bullet train".
Lauding Japan, he said the country was such a friend that it gave a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent interest for the project.
Modi also took a dig at the opposition which had often sounded sceptical about the bullet train project.
"When earlier I talked about bullet train, they (opposition) used to say it was big talk, and now when it has come they are saying what is the need for it," Modi said.
"Our stress is now on high-speed connectivity which will improve speed, reduce distance and ensure economic progress," he added.
In 1964, Modi said, Japan started the bullet train and now this technology was in 15 countries.
The train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is expected to be completed by 2022. The train would cover the distance of over 500 km in less than three hours.
Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by Modi. The project is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan's Shinkansen Technology.
The prime ministers of the two countries also laid the foundation stone for an institute that will come up at Vadodara where around 4,000 people will be trained for the bullet train project.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis were present on the occasion.
India and Japan on Thursday also inked 15 agreements to further broad-base their strategic partnership and agreed to strengthen cooperation in the Indo- Pacific region where China is increasing its assertiveness.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe held wide-ranging talks on key bilateral, regional and international issues and discussed ways to deepen ties in trade, security and civil nuclear energy.
Strongly pitching for a "zero- tolerance" approach towards terrorism, India and Japan agreed to strengthen cooperation against terror groups like Al-Qaida and Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
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