Varanasi, Jan 22: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today thanked his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe for sharing with people of Japan the experiences he had had during their joint visit to this ancient temple town last month, and described the gesture as a "matter of pride for all Indians".
"I recently read a news report on the Internet about a speech delivered by Abe at a Buddhist conference. I was amazed to see that he had spoken at length about the wonderful experiences he had had when he visited Kashi, along with me, on December 12 and watched the 'Ganga Arti'", Modi said while addressing a function here.
"I deeply thank the Japanese PM for his kind words. I had felt grateful when he came to Kashi, which I have made my home, on my request, and took part in all the functions with great interest. His wonderful remarks made before his own countrymen are a matter of pride not only for me but for all the residents of Varanasi, indeed all the countrymen", said Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha.
Varanasi has a special place in the religious consciousness of the Japanese as it is situated close to Sarnath where the Buddha is believed to have delivered his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment.
Abe's visit to this ancient temple town had come a year after he and Modi had inked the 'Kyoto-Kashi' pact in Japan.
Modi, during his recent visit to Japan, had sought its cooperation for modifying Varanasi into a smart city on the lines of Kyoto. As part of Sister City Partnership Agreement, Varanasi is supposed to be developed while keeping its heritage intact.