China and India highlighted their determination to boost ties in a whirlwind visit on Wednesday with not only key agreements but also relaxed protocol procedures, observers said, in an exceptional departure from tradition.
In Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, where President Xi Jinping started his three-day visit to India on Wednesday, he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the signing of an agreement concerning the establishment of industrial parks in Gujarat, Modi's home state, which he governed for 12 years.
The two sides also sealed agreements to establish a partnership between Guangdong province and Gujarat, and another between Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, and Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat.
More documents covering a range of sectors, including high-speed rail, are expected to be signed in New Delhi, Xi's next stop after his six-hour visit to Ahmedabad.
Indian media said it was the first time that pacts were signed by a visiting foreign dignitary outside the capital, while observers said the less formal itinerary of Xi, especially the interaction between Xi and Modi, will set a positive tone for Sino-Indian ties.
After a meeting shortly after Xi's arrival, the two leaders visited Sabarmati Ashram, home of Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi.
They then took a stroll at Sabarmati Riverfront Park before celebrating Modi's 64th birthday on Wednesday and had a dinner in a riverside tent.
The Sabarmati riverfront is a pet project of Modi, who as Gujarat chief minister developed it along the lines of the banks of the River Thames in London as a space that can be utilized by the public, said the Indo-Asian News Service.
Ahmedabad was decked to receive Xi, with local people waving to the Chinese delegation and billboards across the city showing a smiling Xi and Modi.