<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set the ball rolling for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet train project on Thursday, while stressing more than once that India and Japan would remain close friends and would further strengthen bilateral trade and strategic ties.Being built mainly with Japanese funding, the Rs1.10 lakh crore train connecting Ahmedabad and Mumbai willl be India’s first high-speed rail project. It will bring down travel time between the two cities to just over two hours.PM Modi said the project shows the high ambition and willpower of a ‘New India’. Describing the ambitious project as a “gift from Japan to India”, he said the country has given a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent interest for the project.He also thanked “his close friend” Shinzo Abe for launching the project within such a short time.”The bullet train will travel from ‘Aapnu Amdavad’ to ‘Aamchi Mumbai’,” Modi said, referring to the manner in which the two cities are described.In his address, Abe described India as a close friend of Japan and said a strong India is in Japan’s interest, and vice versa. Abe also heaped praises on Modi, calling him “a decisive leader”.”Japan’s ‘JA and India’s Í’ make ‘Jai’, a symbol of victory. This train will fulfil Narendra Modi’s Make in India dream. Modi and I will work towards reailising Jai Japan, Jai India. Japan is with him to realise his dream of New India. I wish to visit Ahmedabad on a bullet train,” Abe said.The project is expected to be completed by 2022-23. Both prime ministers said they hope to take a ride together in the bullet train the day it becomes operational.Later in the day, the two leaders issued a joint statement, agreeing to broaden strategic and defence partnership between the two countries by strengthening cooperation in the India-Pacific region. The prime ministers also discussed ways to elevate the level of special strategic and global partnership between India and Japan.Addressing the India-Japan Annual Meet later in the evening, Modi recalled that Japan was the first country to partner the Vibrant Gujarat Summit when he started the biennial business meet in 2003.He also said his decade-old dream of seeing a mini-Japan in Gujarat had come true with many Japanese companies setting up industries in the state. He also made a strong pitch for more Japanese investments in the country, saying India was positioning itself as a global manufacturing hub and had undertaken a number of structural reforms to make it easier to do business.
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