Bangkok: India and Thailand on Wednesday laid a roadmap for further strengthening bilateral ties including in defence as the two countries expressed their shared interest in securing international sea lanes, amid flexing of muscles by China in the South China Sea.
Hamid Ansari, who flew into this southeast Asian country as the first by an Indian Vice President in half a century, held talks with Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and said he sees a “very promising future for our bilateral relation”.
Ansari said there is much untapped potential in the bilateral relationship and much to rediscover and learn from each other’s culture, industry and society.
“With its unique geographic location, Thailand can be a bridge linking South East Asia to East Asia; while India can act as your springboard to West and Central Asia and to Europe. Our talks earlier today have put in place a roadmap for further strengthening our economic cooperation and intensification of our collaborations in all areas,” he said.
Amid China’s territorial claims over the strategic South China Sea that has been contested by over half a dozen countries with overlapping stakes, Ansari expressed India and Thailand’s “shared interest in the security” of international sea lanes.
“As maritime neighbours, we have a shared interest in the security of international sea lanes of communication and commerce. Our resolve to strengthen our bilateral engagement in the areas of security and defence will help the region as a whole and promote greater regional economic integration and connectivity,” he said.
In a speech at a banquet hosted by premier Prayut in his honour, Ansari termed challenges of this century as “enormous” which merit common understanding and joint efforts as he pointed out that “globalisation of terrorism, impact of climate change on humanity and the health hazards which know no borders require global action”.
“The international community is grappling with issues related to migration and integration of people,” he said, adding: “Our cultures with a civilisational heritage of peace, pluralism and co-existence in can offer lessons and lasting solutions.”
Ansari, who arrived on his two-day visit in Bangkok at the invitation of Prayut, is the first visit by an Indian Vice President to Thailand after a gap of 50 years.