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Xi in Modi’s backyard

Xi in Modi’s backyard
Highlights

Chinese President Xi Jinping got a taste of Gujarati culture and cuisine on the Sabarmati river font as he was given a grand welcome on his arrival here on Wednesday.

India, China sign three Gujarat-specific MoUs

  • PM Modi plays perfect host to the visiting dignitaries
  • The VVIP treated to vibrant Gujarat culture and cuisine
  • Modi takes Xi on a tour of Sabarmati Ashram
  • PM later hosts private dinner for China’s first couple
  • Later, both leaders leave for New Delhi

Ahmedabad: Chinese President Xi Jinping got a taste of Gujarati culture and cuisine on the Sabarmati river font as he was given a grand welcome on his arrival here on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi walking the last mile to be the perfect host ahead of their substantive talks in the national capital on boosting bilateral ties.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad on Wednesday
Xi, who flew in to Gujarat's commercial capital from Colombo on a three-day visit, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, where he was received by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Modi took over as the host as soon as the Chinese President and his wife Peng Liyuan arrived at the Hotel Hyatt. He took Xi around a pictorial gallery featuring Modi's hometown Vadnagar, and explained its Buddhist links to the visiting leader. Seventh century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang had visited Vadnagar during his 15-year stay in India.

The two sides then held brief talks after which three agreements were concluded related to the region, including one on setting up a Chinese industrial park. The agreements include a sister city pact between Guangzhou in China and Ahmedabad and setting up of an industrial park in the state. Keen to boost its trade ties with India, the Chinese side has already indicated that it will pledge to invest billions of dollars in India's railways, manufacturing and infrastructure projects during Xi's visit, the third by any Chinese President to India. With the official engagement of the day over, Modi played the perfect host as he took Xi on a conducted tour around Sabarmati Ashram and explained the significance of the place that was set up by Mahatma Gandhi on June 17, 1917, on the banks of the Sabarmati river.

Xi was also invited by Modi to sit on the ground and try his hand at Mahatma's charkha on which he would spin cotton to signify the self-reliance of Indians.

The Prime Minister presented Xi with a book "Gandhi in Amdavad" published by the ashram, a replica of Mahatma Gandhi's charkha and a historic picture of Gandhi's famous Dandi March. The visit to the Sabarmati river front saw Xi and his wife enjoying every moment as Gujarati folk dancers in colourful attire performed. The couple took a stroll along the banks of the river that has been developed into a landscaped park with fountains and tents and other modern amenities.

Modi kept up a constant conversation with Xi as they strolled along the riverfront, inviting him to sit with him on a swing made from Sankheda wood, pointing out things of significance to the Chinese first couple.

Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, a noted singer, seemed to enjoy the colourful extravaganza, and during a folk performance was seen tapping to the tabla beats.

The scintillating folk dance performances included Mer Rass of the Mer community of Gujarat's Porbandar region, and a tribal pyramid by artistes from Dang, a tribal region in south Gujarat.

The two leaders spent more than 55 minutes at the river front. Modi then left Xi and Peng at the special Kutch handicraft designed royal tent for rest.

Modi rounded off the day by hosting a private dinner for the Chinese President and his wife at the Sabarmati river front Park. The day also marked Modi's 64th birthday. The two leaders later left for Delhi.

On Thursday, Modi and Xi would hold talks at the Hyderabad House, which would be followed by the inking of several agreements, including on infrastructure and railways.

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