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Abe attends ceremony for new Indian railway using Japanese technology

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a ceremony on Thursday to inaugurate the start of a project to build a new high-speed railway in India employing Japanese bullet train technology. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined Abe at the ceremony for the railway project that will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad,…

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a ceremony on Thursday to inaugurate the start of a project to build a new high-speed railway in India employing Japanese bullet train technology.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined Abe at the ceremony for the railway project that will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad, before holding their summit in Gandhinagar in the western state of Gujarat.

"I, the Japanese government and Japanese companies are determined to work as one to provide complete support for Prime Minister Modi's decision" to introduce Japan's shinkansen technology, Abe said during the ceremony held near Sabarmati railway station in Ahmedabad.

He noted that Japan's shinkansen system has never experienced a fatal accident since beginning operations in 1964.

"Japan will share freely its knowledge concerning railway safety, including the shinkansen, and work together in ensuring the safety of railways across India," he said.

The new line is expected to shorten travel time on the 500-kilometer journey between the two western India cities to less than three hours from eight, with India aiming to start operation by 2023.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, arrive at Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS

Later Thursday, Abe and Modi condemned North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests and called for international efforts to maximize pressure on Pyongyang.

Abe and Modi, who held talks in Gandhinagar, western India, also agreed to promote bilateral defense and maritime security cooperation amid China's assertive activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a statement released after their 10th summit in three years, the two prime ministers urged North Korea to "abandon nuclear and ballistic missile development and restrain from any provocative act" after it conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3 following its launch of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan in late August.

The Japanese and Indian leaders also called on the North to honor U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions and other international agreements.

The U.N. body on Monday adopted its latest resolution that imposes the first restrictions on exports of crude oil and petroleum products to the North.

In a show of unity in tackling another security challenge faced by both countries, Abe and Modi reaffirmed the significance of "the freedom of navigation at sea, overflight and unobstructed trade based on international law," apparently in reference to China's expansionary activities in the South China Sea.

They agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of defense equipment and technology as well as continue to bolster trilateral collaboration also involving the United States through joint maritime drills.

In the statement, Abe and Modi said they will keep discussing the possible export to India of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's US-2 amphibious aircraft for search and rescue purposes. But its high price tag has been preventing the two countries from reaching a deal, Japanese officials said.

Although Japanese government sources said Tokyo had sought to upgrade security talks with New Delhi involving vice foreign and defense ministers to a ministerial-level dialogue, Abe and Modi vowed to maintain the current scheme in the statement.

In the economic field, the Japanese government pledged to provide about 190 billion yen ($1.7 billion) in low-interest loans for a new high-speed railway and other infrastructure projects in India.

With regard to cultural exchanges, Abe pledged to offer support in opening Japanese language courses at 100 higher education facilities in India and training a total of 1,000 Japanese language teachers over the next five years.

© KYODO

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