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SOURCE: ANI

Stating that India and Thailand share common ‘threat perceptions’, Indian Ambassador to Thailand Nagesh Singh said that the defence and security collaborations between the two nations have picked up and most of their objectives are in sync with each other.

He said that the two countries have started more dialogues and exercises at staff level and between the three armed forces. The envoy also highlighted the issue of human trafficking and unregulated fishing in Bay of Bengal.

Speaking to ANI, the Indian envoy said, “So the defence and security collaboration? I am adding security to defence because, also at the intelligence level, we have regular meetings. That is one area which was not there 10 years back, but suddenly it has taken off because India and Thailand realize that we have common threat perceptions. Most of our strategic objectives are in sync with each other’s.”

“So now we have started having all sorts of dialogue at the staff level and all the three armed forces. Between Navy, Air Force, there are exercises…of all the three wings which take place. We also participate in a few multinational exercises, Singapore, India, Thailand, the SITMECs in the Bay of Bengal,” he added.

The 13th edition of the India-Thailand joint military exercise, MAITREE, is being conducted from July 1-15 at Fort Vachiraprakan in Tak Province, Thailand.

The Indian Army contingent, comprising 76 personnel, is being represented mainly by a Battalion of the Ladakh Scouts along with personnel from other units and services. The Royal Thailand Army contingent also comprises 76 personnel mainly from 1st Battalion, 14 Infantry Regiment of 4 Division.

The Indian envoy further said that India is now taking the cooperation from just exercises further to defence production.

“Similarly, our Coast Guard ships are visiting each other because, again, in the Bay of Bengal…human trafficking, unregulated fishing. So this is an area which is growing very, very fast bilaterally,” Nagesh Singh said.

“Now the Thai side is interested, and so are we, as we’ve become now exporters of defence equipment, to take this partnership from exercises and talks into defence production, the defence industrial production side, where we could look at co-production, co-development,” he further added.

Speaking on the India-Thailand ties, the Ambassador said that it is a multifaceted relationship and is on a high upward trajectory.

“India-Thailand relationship is on a very high upward trajectory. It’s a multifaceted relationship. Every aspect, from the political side, the meeting of our political leadership, to the economic and commercial side, then you can get into the people-to-people connect. And when I say people-to-people connect,” the envoy said.

“India is amongst the top three countries in terms of tourist arrivals from India into Thailand. There are universities here at least six or seven India study centres in some of the most prominent universities in Thailand…

He also highlighted the people-to-people ties between the two nations with the rise of Indian tourists, especially due to the long connect between Buddhism and Hinduism.

The envoy affirmed that India and Thailand will elevate the ties between the two nations into a strategic partnership in the coming months.

“Buddhism and Hinduism provide a very, very strong people to people connect because a large number of Thais visit India for pilgrimage to the Buddhist circuit. Similarly, on the defence and security side, that’s one relationship which is moving fast and in a very strategic direction…the relationship has all the elements of describing it as a strategic partnership, which I think right now, in technical terms, we still don’t have with Thailand but in the coming months, you’ll see that it will be elevated to a strategic partner,” Singh further said.