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Japan Prime Minister's India trip postponed amid Citizenship Act protests

Diplomatic sources said the Japanese government has clearly conveyed to New Delhi that it would not be possible for Abe to travel to Guwahati in view of large scale protests in the northeastern city.

Published: 13th December 2019 10:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2019 02:58 PM   |  A+A-

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (File | AP)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's annual summit talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi from December 15-17 due to the deteriorating security situation in Guwahati.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar confirmed the decision to defer to summit talks.

"With reference to the proposed visit of Japanese PM Abe to India, both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future," he said in response to a query on the summit.

Sources in the Japanese embassy here said that a team which was to travel to Guwahati to oversee preparations, including the ambassador, has cancelled their visit.

"Officials who were stationed there are also returning," sources said.

Diplomatic sources said the Japanese government has clearly conveyed to New Delhi that it would not be possible for Abe to travel to Guwahati in view of large scale protests in the northeastern city.

They said the summit is now expected to take place next year.

The MEA last week announced the dates for Abe's visit but did not mention the venue.

Assam has been witnessing massive protests in the last two days over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, with thousands of people hitting the streets defying prohibitory orders to demand scrapping of the bill.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday while the Rajya Sabha cleared it on Wednesday.

It became law after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to it on Thursday.

At least two persons died due to bullet injuries on Thursday after police opened fire on protesters in Guwahati.

On Wednesday, protesters pulled down hoardings erected in central Guwahati to welcome Abe.

Apart from Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh have been witnessing large-scale protests in the last two days with thousands of people hitting the streets defying prohibitory orders to demand scrapping of the contentious law.

Sources said a Japanese team visited Guwahati on Wednesday to take stock of the preparations following which Tokyo clearly conveyed to the MEA that Abe's visit cannot go ahead under current circumstances.

Last year, Japan hosted the summit in picturesque Yamanashi prefecture during which both sides had resolved to significantly expand bilateral cooperation in a range of areas.

Reflecting growing congruence in bilateral ties, the two countries held their inaugural foreign and defence ministerial dialogue two weeks back which prepared the ground for the Modi-Abe summit.

The Indo-Japan defence and foreign ministerial dialogue took place following a decision taken by Modi and Abe during last year's annual summit.

(With PTI inputs)

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