India, Thailand defence ties to get stronger

Bangkok, May 30 (IANS) With Thailand expressing its interest in India's defence industry and the Indian defence minister scheduled to visit Thailand next month, defence ties between both the countries are likely to get stronger.

A joint statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra after their bilateral meeting here Thursday, said: "Thailand expressed interest in India's defence industry, which has competitive production and advance technology. Both countries agreed to pursue defence industry collaboration in areas of mutual interest."

While both prime ministers appreciated the "close interactions and regular exchanges between the armed forces of Thailand and India", the Thai side welcomed the scheduled visit of the Indian Defence Minister, A.K. Anthony to Thailand next month.

The Thai defence minister had visited India in December last year. A defence dialogue was conducted between both the countries February this year.

Both countries have also agreed to scale up the regular Coordinated Patrol (CORPATs) conducted by the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy.

"Both sides agreed to enhance anti-piracy cooperation, promote security of sea lanes and Coast Guard cooperation to contribute to the maintenance of peace in the region and to work towards ensuring safety and security of navigation in the Indian Ocean," the joint statement said.

Reiterating their commitment to reforms in the UN, the Thai side acknowledged India's credentials for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

To give a boost to trade and investment, India invited participation of the Thai private sector in its plans to modernise and upgrade manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, especially in Delhi-Mumbai and Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridors, the Buddhist circuit and the northeast states of India.

"India also welcomed Thai investment particularly in sectors such as ports and highways, electronics, automobile components, food processing and power generation, as well as tourism and hospitality facilities. India expressed its interest in participating in mega transport and infrastructure development projects in Thailand," the joint statement said.

To promote trade and investment and facilitate travel of business persons of both countries, the two sides agreed to provide fast track business visa service to the qualified entrepreneurs of both the countries.

Both prime ministers welcomed the establishment of Thailand-India Business Forum with the involvement of the private sector to stimulate expansion of bilateral trade and investments, and facilitate business partnerships.

Both countries sought an institutional arrangement on social security benefits of the workers in each other's countries.

"Both sides noted with satisfaction the positive discussions on Social Security Agreement between the two countries that would facilitate and streamline the movement of professionals and workers and expressed the hope that this agreement would be finalised at an early date," the statement said.

"In this connection, they agreed to discuss a proposal for the establishment of a framework to enable regulated deployment of labour from India into the required sectors in Thailand," it said.

Both sides signed agreements in the field of exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing, science and technology, establishment of the Thailand-India exchange programme, geo-informatics and space technology in the field of mapping and a treaty on the transfer of sentenced persons.

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