Thailand remains vital link in India's Look East Policy and strategic partnership with ASEAN: PM

Bangkok, May 30 (ANI): Asserting that the cooperation between the two nations is growing in multiple dimensions and each area holds enormous potential, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday said Thailand was also the springboard for India's engagement with Southeast and East Asia and remains the vital link in our Look East Policy and our strategic partnership with ASEAN.

"India attaches high importance to its relationship with Thailand. We are neighbours, linked by millennia old ties of culture and civilization. Our cooperation is growing in multiple dimensions - in defence and security, trade and investment, science and technology, education, culture and tourism - and each area holds enormous potential," said Dr. Singh in his statement during his visit to Thailand.

"Thailand was also the springboard for India's engagement with Southeast and East Asia and remains the vital link in our Look East Policy and our strategic partnership with ASEAN. We see Thailand as an important partner in promoting maritime security, regional economic integration and the evolution of an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture, anchored in ASEAN centrality," he added.

Dr. Singh said though the two countries have strong economic synergies, the trade and investment levels are yet to reach their full potential.

"We have directed our Ministers to quickly resolve the few outstanding issues to achieve a comprehensive and balanced India-Thailand Free Trade Agreement at the earliest," said Dr. Singh.

"We would like to see enhanced presence of Indian and Thai companies in each other's markets, especially as both countries are planning massive investments in infrastructure over the next five years," he added.

Dr. Singh said 'our connectivity projects by sea and land will further deepen linkages and cooperation between India and Southeast Asia'.

"They will support economic development and reinvigorate historic cultural and spiritual links in the region, especially in northeastern India. We will work together with Myanmar to ensure completion of the trilateral highway project by 2016 and pursue development of other corridors," said Dr. Singh.

Dr. Singh said the growing security cooperation between the two sides received a major boost today.

"The Extradition Treaty, concluded after two decades of negotiations, and a memorandum on cooperation in anti-money laundering send a major signal of our shared commitment to combating terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and counterfeiting. We also agreed to continue strengthening defence relations, including through exchanges, exercises and joint patrolling," said Dr. Singh.

"As you have seen from the agreements signed today, we place strong emphasis on improving collaboration in areas like science and technology, space science, education, culture and people-to-people exchanges. These will benefit our two countries and bring our people together in a variety of ways. We are also going to mount a major exhibition on Buddhist Art in Bangkok soon," he added.

Dr. Singh said the two sides have agreed to strengthen consultations and cooperation in the ASEAN Regional Forum and other ASEAN-related forums, East Asia Summit, BIMSTEC and the Mekong Ganga Cooperation initiative.

"I appreciate Prime Minister's Shinawatra's unstinting support to India's strategic partnership and enhanced engagement with ASEAN. Let me reiterate India's commitment to making India-ASEAN partnership a force for peace and shared prosperity in our region," said Dr. Singh.

"The sapling from the sacred Bodhi Tree, which the people of India are deeply honoured to present as a special gift to His Majesty the King on the occasion of this visit reminds of us our historic links. It also represents the blossoming of our relationship. I am confident that our discussions today will add new meaning and content to the promising relations between India and Thailand," he added.

The Indian Prime Minister said that he was delighted to be in Bangkok on his first bilateral visit to Thailand.

"I want to thank Madam Prime Minister for her invitation and for her gracious hospitality. I also want to thank her for the momentum that she has imparted to our relationship, especially since her visit to India in January 2012 as our honoured Chief Guest for the Republic Day," said Dr. Singh.

"We have just completed a very meaningful, productive and satisfying discussion on bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest. We have agreed to maintain the momentum of regular high level dialogue. In the coming months, India's Defence Minister, Commerce and Industry Minister and External Affairs Minister will be travelling to Bangkok," he added. (ANI)

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