Vice President Hamid Ansari, who is on a 3-day tour to Thailand, has called for “strong cooperation” among like-minded nations to tackle the growing menace of terrorism. He underlined the “tremendous potential” for enhancing Indo-Thai defence ties to counter the menace while addressing the students at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
“The spreading tide of extremism and terrorism is a threat we both face,” VP Ansari told his audience which comprised of students, Thai academics and businessmen.
“Successfully dealing with such threats requires strong cooperation among like-minded partners. Thailand and India already have a robust cooperation in this area and I am glad that we have also taken steps to institutionalise such cooperation at the regional level,” the VP said in his address on ‘India, Thailand and ASEAN: Contours of a rejuvenated relationship’.
The Vice President said his visit underscores the importance India attaches to Thailand as part of its increasing engagement in the region.
“Thailand has played host to ships of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard on several occasions in recent years…We hope to continue this cooperation through technical, human resource development, capacity building and contributing to the development of Thai capacities, both physical and human,” VP Ansari said.
He noted that despite the large size and rapid growth of the two economies, the trade and investment between India and Thailand “remains modest”. He also said that non-traditional threats such as piracy, smuggling, transnational crimes and drug- trafficking were on the rise and posed a challenge which required a strong and determined, coordinated action.
“As the countries in the ASEAN region strive for greater economic integration, the safety of sea lanes — critical for maritime trade and commerce, maritime security, and access to marine resources in accordance with accepted international norms, continues to assume greater significance,” he told the packed auditorium at Chulalongkorn’s Music Hall.
He called for stronger economic ties between India and Thailand.
“There is a need to synergise our efforts in the areas of economy and business to enhance and diversify our trade…We need to encourage our private sectors to make investments in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors in the each others’ country and for this the two governments are willing to provide a predictable and comprehensive legal and taxation framework,” he asserted.
He also batted for peace in the region.
“India’s ‘Look East Policy’ has become ‘Act East Policy’. A rapidly developing India and ASEAN can be great partners for each other. We are both keen to enhance our cooperation in advancing balance, peace and stability in the region,” VP Ansari said.
“With mutual trade and investment opportunities arising from the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community and India’s emphasis on ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Smart Cities’ initiatives, we are confident that India-ASEAN commercial partnership will flourish,” the Vice President added.
VP Ansari, who arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday afternoon, held a meeting with Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha. The two sides laid emphasis on expanding the cooperation in the sphere of sectors like infrastructure and regional connectivity besides the areas like defense, security, health and trade.
VP Ansari’s visit to Thailand is the first visit by an Indian Vice President in more than half a century.
(With inputs from PTI)