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India, Thailand to upgrade bilateral dialogue on defense issues

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, April 6, IRNA -- India and Thailand held discussions on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues to enhance cooperation in security issues and upgrade bilateral dialogue on defense matters.

The need to energize bilateral institutional mechanism was one of the major topics discussed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Thailand counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva, said a joint statement issued late on Tuesday evening after the talks.

“The two Prime Ministers noted that India and Thailand have an on-going programme of defence cooperation, characterized by a number of exchanges between the Armed Forces of both countries, joint exercises and participation in each others' defence training programmes,' said the statement.

It added that in order to strengthen bilateral cooperation, the two leaders 'agreed to establish a regular High-Level Dialogue on Defence Cooperation between the Ministries of Defence of both countries in the near future, details of which would be further finalized.

'It was agreed that this Dialogue would regularly review all the elements of bilateral defence cooperation including in the area of defence industry and technology. The Dialogue would also include discussions on a bilateral MoU on Defence Cooperation.

“The two leaders stressed the significance of enhancing connectivity between the two countries and regions, and the importance of further enhancing bilateral trade and investment. In this context the two leaders noted that the next meeting of the Joint Commission will be held in 2011 during which new initiative for enhancing cooperation would be identified”.

Discussions were also held on cooperation between the two sides to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters such as earthquake and tsunami and to deploy effective multilateral early warning systems against them.

The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance attached to the strengthening and enhancement of trade and economic through the bilateral and regional frameworks viz. ASEAN-India, BIMSTEC and MGC.

At bilateral level, the two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the growing trend of bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. They noted that the bilateral trade turnover had reached US$ 6.7 billion in 2010 and agreed to double the trade volume by 2014.

Noting that ongoing negotiations on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between India and Thailand that would promote trade in goods and services, and investment were proceeding well, the two directed the negotiators to finalize the text of the Agreement by the end of 2011.

They also desired that the Second Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement for Establishing Free Trade Area between Thailand and India founded in 2003 be signed at the earliest possible date.

The leaders reiterated their commitment to realization of the Trilateral Highway connecting India to Thailand via Myanmar to enhance regional transport networks. The highway while promoting trade and people to people contacts will also help revive the shared civilizational and cultural contacts and the ancient routes of knowledge and pilgrimage.

Unequivocally condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the two Prime Ministers resolved to significantly enhance bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism, including in restricting transnational movement and unauthorized stay of known terrorists in each other's countries,' the joint statement said.

The Thail premier also held separate meetings with senior Indian officials including President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krisnha.

He also attended a business luncheon hosted by the three chambers of commerce.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30325363

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