India and Thailand are set to firm up cooperation to combat terrorism, and boost maritime security, defence ties and trade during Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s maiden visit to India, officials said on Wednesday.
The Thai premier will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his three-day visit beginning tomorrow. The two countries will issue a joint statement later, expressing their expectations to increase maritime security, double trade in five years, push the India-Myanmar-Thai road project, cooperate in civil aviation, fight cybercrime and promote people-to-people cooperation, said Maj-General Werachon Sukondhapatipak, a deputy Thai government spokesman.
Werachon said talks with India will focus on issues such as trade, support for Thai agricultural products and cooperation on education and tourism. He said Gen Prayuth has said to put all items high on agenda. A high-level delegation will discuss boosting cultural exchanges between the two nations. India and Thailand will also look for joint projects in solar energy, space applications and space technology sectors.
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“Thailand is an extremely important partner and the two sides attach a lot of importance to this visit,” India’s Ambassador to Thailand Bhagwant Bishnoi told PTI. Noting that India’s ‘Act East’ and Thailand’s ‘Look West’
policies were complementary to each other, Bishnoi said India was looking forward to signing several agreements, MoUs on narcotics, cultural exchange with Thailand during the visit.
A Thailand-India Free Trade Agreement will be discussed. “We are looking forward to a substantial joint statement which would talk of other agreements in the pipeline,” Bishnoi said, and added that Thailand is also keen on India’s ‘Make in India’ programme. He said India appreciated the fact that Thailand was “very sensitive” to India’s security concerns and ensured that Thai territory was not used by forces inimical to India. The Thai delegation will discuss cultural links by travelling to Bodh Gaya for prayers.
The Indian Ambassador here said an agreement will be signed by Nagaland and Thailand’s Chiang Mai universities to conduct Thai and Indian courses respectively. India courses have been important to Thailand and centres
at Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, and Silpakorn universities have had Sanskrit and Tamil classes for 61 years, Bishnoi said.
The two countries are expected to sign three agreements after Prayuth-Modi talks: an action plan for cultural exchange, academic cooperation between Chiang Mai University and Nagaland University and cooperation between Kasikornbank and Axis Bank.
The joint statement will pave way for closer Thai-India diplomatic relations to mark their 70th anniversary next year, Werachon added. Prayut will be accompanied by Thai foreign minister, Agriculture Minister, Industries minister, IT minister and Deputy Minister of Commerce.
The total trade between the two countries stands at USD 8.5 billion. In 2015, Thai exports to India were USD 5.30 billion while Thai imports from India were USD 2.63 billion. At least 1.1 million Indian tourists visited Thailand last year.