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Shinzo Abe’s Guwahati visit put off; new dates later

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their annual summit in Guwahati and the government said that the decision to defer the visit was taken after mutual consultations. The scheduled summit looked untenable as unrest gripped the main venue of the visit since the Citizenship Amendment Bill was proposed.

ET Bureau|
Dec 14, 2019, 08.38 AM IST
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New Delhi: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bilateral visit to Guwahati has been postponed following violence and unrest in Assam. Officials said that fresh dates would be worked out later. Adding to the grim scene, France, UK and Israel advised its citizens in India to be cautious following reports of curfew and violence in Assam and Tripura.

Abe was to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their annual summit in Guwahati and the government said that the decision to defer the visit was taken after mutual consultations.

“With reference to the proposed visit of Japanese PM @AbeShinzo to India, both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. Officials said that the venue for the bilateral meet will remain the same, given the focus on ‘Act East’.

The scheduled summit looked untenable as unrest gripped the main venue of the visit since Parliament started debating the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Officials said they could not travel to conclude visit formalities related to the visit. Twenty-six columns of the Army has been called in to curb the violence.

The India-Japan summit in Guwahati on Sunday and Monday was to be the first such annual summit to be held in the northeast. The venue was important, given that Japan was expected to invest around Rs 13,000 crore in projects in the eight states of the region.

As reported by ET, investments include water supply project in Guwahati, road network in Assam-Meghalaya, forest management and agriculture projects in other states of the region that serves as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

Abe was supposed to announce the new proposals for the region at the annual summit. Japan prioritises connectivitybuilding projects in all of India, including northeast. In 2017, the Japan International Cooperation Agency signed an agreement with India to provide $610 m for the first phase I of the North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project, which will focus on Meghalaya and Mizoram.

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