Like-minded nations must jointly tackle terror: Ansari

AnsariBANGKOK: Vice President Hamid Ansari today called for “strong cooperation” among like-minded nations to tackle the growing menace of terrorism and underlined the “tremendous potential” for enhancing Indo-Thai defense ties.

“The spreading tide of extremism and terrorism is a threat we both face,” Ansari told Thai academics, businessmen and students in his address at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University here.

“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 institutionalize such cooperation at the regional level,” he said in his address on ‘India, Thailand and ASEAN: Contours of a rejuvenated relationship’.

Ansari, who flew into this southeast Asian country on the first visit by an Indian Vice President in half a century, held talks with Thai premier Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday.

In his address, Ansari said his visit underscores the importance India attaches to Thailand as part of its increasing engagement with the region. He asserted that there is “tremendous potential” for enhancing bilateral defense ties.

“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,” he said.

However, Ansari noted that when it comes to economic cooperation, despite the large size and rapid growth of the two economies, the trade and investment between India and Thailand “remains modest”.

The Vice President noted that non-traditional threats such as piracy, smuggling, transnational crimes and drug- trafficking were on the rise and posed a challenge, requiring strong and determined, coordinated action.

He reiterated India’s stand that all trade routes and the sea lanes must be protected from traditional and non- traditional threats and all countries using these international waters must act with responsibility and restraint.

“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 said India supported the collective efforts by ASEAN member states and China to conclude the Code of Conduct to keep peace and stability in the region. . Talking about economic cooperation between India and Thailand, Ansari said, “There is a need to synergies 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.

“We have so much in common. The governments concerned have to have a clear view and a clear vision of what they want to do together,” Ansari said, adding that “we have a road to travel together” and the road is ready.

Ansari underlined that India had enhanced its engagement in Southeast Asia.

“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,” Ansari said.

He said India has placed ASEAN at the core of the ‘Act East Policy’ and at the centre of its dream of an Asian century.

Today, as ASEAN and India stand at the dawn of a new era, time has come perhaps to reclaim our past heritage, he said.

Ansari said India was open to offering ASEAN indigenously developed GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) services, which provided advanced navigation and location assistance and information facilities.

“With mutual trade and investment opportunities arising from the realization 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,” Ansari said.

Ansari also stated that ASEAN was a “natural partner” for India’s engagement in the Asia Pacific region.

“Since the commencement of the dialogue relationship with ASEAN in 1992, the potential of this partnership has grown commensurate to the increase in our collective capacities, our growing economic integration and the ongoing evolution of the political and security architecture in South and East Asia,” he said.

“The upgradation of the ASEAN-India relationship into a Strategic Partnership in 2012 was a natural progression in this relationship,” he added.

He pointed out that in recent months, ASEAN-India have enhanced their engagement in South-East Asia.

Ansari said, “this was reflected in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in 2014 at the India-ASEAN summit at Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar: ‘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'”.–PTI

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