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Thailand’s premier to be Republic Day chief guest

The Thailand PM will be the third leader in a row from the south-east Asian and east Asian countries to grace the Republic Day parade,indicative of India’s ‘Look East’ policy.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
November 3, 2011 12:05:21 am

Thailand’s first woman Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been invited as the chief guest on the Republic Day,sources told The Indian Express on Wednesday. They said the invitation has been accepted.

The Thailand PM will be the third leader in a row from the south-east Asian and east Asian countries to grace the Republic Day parade,indicative of India’s ‘Look East’ policy.

New Delhi hosted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011 and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak in 2010. In fact,last month,New Delhi also hosted Presidents from Vietnam and Myanmar.

Though South Block officially says India’s relation with south-east Asian countries is not a “zero-sum game”,New Delhi’s reaching out to the ASEAN countries is viewed by strategic experts as a move to counter the influence of China on these countries.

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be,in fact,visiting Bali for the East Asia and ASEAN summits later this month.

The gesture to invite heads of state or government for the Republic Day parade is what New Delhi reserves for those countries or leaders with whom it wants the relationship on an “upward trajectory”,sources said.

The choice of chief guest every year is dictated by a number of reasons — strategic and diplomatic,business interest and international geo-politics.

Yingluck Shinawatra,44,became the youngest PM to head the Thai government in the last 60 years,especially after a period of instability in the country. She is the youngest sister of Thaksin Shinawatra,the prime minister ousted in 2006 coup. Since 2006,there have been four governments in Bangkok.

The visit to India by the young PM — on whom,many believe,Thaksin’s shadow looms large — will be a “major boost” to the diplomatic relationship over six decades.

Over the past two decades,India’s ‘Look East’ policy has been complemented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy in bringing the two countries closer. India and Thailand celebrated 60 years of their diplomatic relations in 2007.

There have been six prime ministerial visits from Thailand to India during 2001-2011,while there were three prime ministerial visits from India to Thailand during this period.

Notwithstanding China’s close relationship with Thailand,New Delhi is strengthening its relations with Bangkok on political,economic and defence fields.

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