New Delhi, Jan 25 :
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accompanied by his wife Akie Abe, arrived here Saturday on a three-day official visit, and straightaway called on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Abe was received by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla at the airport.
Welcoming Abe, President Mukherjee expressed happiness that a Japanese prime minister would be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade for the first time.
The president remembered Abe’s 2007 visit to India when he addressed the parliament and said his speech still resonates in hearts of Indians. He recalled that India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru held Prime Minister Abe’s grandfather and prime minister Nobusuke Kishi in great respect. Kishi had launched Japan’s Official Development Assistance programme.
The president said “India was privileged to receive recently the Emperor and Empress of Japan in their first-ever state visit to India. India attaches great importance to India-Japan relations and appreciates Prime Minister Abe’s view that India-Japan relations have the largest potential in any bilateral relations,” said a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement.
Mukherjee recalled that India was the largest recipient of Japan’s Overseas Development Assistance which has been invaluable for India’s efforts to upgrade her physical infrastructure.
Cooperation between India and Japan is important to ensure the security of sea lanes and uninterrupted flow of trade, he said, adding India looks forward to working with Japan to expand and diversify trade to its full potential.
The president expressed the hope that Abe’s visit will further enhance relations between the two countries in various fields, the statement said.
Abe warmly reciprocated the president’s words and said this was the first visit of a Japanese prime minister to India in seven years.
He said there has been steady progress in the strategic and global partnership between the two countries. Cooperation between the defence forces of the two countries will contribute to peace and security of the entire region.
With over 1,000 Japanese companies are already in India, Abe said he would like to see trade and investment develop further. He has therefore brought along with him a large business delegation and said he also looks forward to developing exchanges in the academic field, the statement said.
Abe in the eveing is to hold restricted and delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Hyderabad House, after which both sides are expected to ink several agreements.