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PM Narendra Modi to take Shinzo Abe to Varanasi in December

Varanasi Additional District Magistrate Om Prakash Chaubey confirmed to The Indian Express that the administration had received a tentative protocol of the one-day visit by the two PMs.

PM Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo at ASEAN-India Summit in Myanmar on Saturday, November 21. PM Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo at ASEAN-India Summit in Myanmar on Saturday, November 21.

In an effort to promote cultural exchanges through the common threads of Buddhism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe as his guest in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi on December 12.

Following deliberations between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministries of External Affairs, Culture and Tourism, a preliminary protocol of Modi’s visit with Abe was sent to the Varanasi district administration on Sunday.

Varanasi Additional District Magistrate Om Prakash Chaubey confirmed to The Indian Express that the administration had received a tentative protocol of the one-day visit by the two PMs. The ADM said Modi and Abe will attend the Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat, and leave for New Delhi the same evening.

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Sources said Modi has been keen on taking a foreign dignitary to Varanasi for quite some time, and Abe appeared to be the perfect guest because of the shared Buddhist heritage of the two countries.

The Japanese Prime Minister is likely to visit Sarnath, located 13 km from Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganga and Gomti rivers. Sarnath, one of the holiest centres of Buddhism, is where the Buddha is believed to have given his first sermon.

“Sarnath stands out prominently on the Buddhist circuit which is being promoted by the Ministry of Tourism. A visit by the Japanese Prime Minister will likely encourage other Japanese tourists, given that Buddhism is a major religion there,” an official conversant with the PMO’s plan said.

The official added that welcoming heads of nations to cities outside the national capital has evolved as a part of the PMO’s plans. China’s President Xi Jinping travelled to Ahmedabad, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Bengaluru.

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On his trip to Japan last August, Modi visited two prominent ancient Buddhist temples in the company of Abe. The two leaders signed a pact to develop Varanasi as a‘’Smart City’, and Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa gave a presentation on Kyoto’s transition from a historic city to a modern one, while continuing to nurture its heritage.

Under the Smart Heritage Cities programme, Kyoto will provide cooperation in the fields of conservation and modernisation of cities, as well as in art, culture and academics.

Sources in Varanasi Municipal Corporation said that during the Varanasi visit, the two PMs are likely to discuss the progress of works under the ‘Kyoto-Kashi’ pact. Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle said the programme for the day of the visit would be finalised in the next couple of days.

First published on: 23-11-2015 at 04:24:38 am
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