AHEAD of the India-Asean summit, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral talks today (Jan. 25) on strengthening cooperation in strategic areas of trade, defense and security, Indiatvnews.com reported.
Modi also held a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the current chair of the Asean grouping.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “Our ‘Act East’ complementing Thailand’s Act West policy! Prime Minister Modi met with PM of Thailand… Constructive dialogue on economic and commercial exchange, connectivity, defense & security, cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.”
On the eve of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit to celebrate 25 years of India-Asean partnership, Modi had held separate bilateral meetings with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines on Wednesday.
India-Thailand bilateral trade stands at around $8 billion, tilted largely in favor of the latter.
Work is also underway on a trilateral highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand, which, according to the External Affairs Ministry, will be operational by the end of 2019.
In July this year, Thailand will take over from Vietnam the role of country coordinator for India with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc.
General Prayut arrived here on Wednesday to attend the Commemorative Summit to mark 25 years of the India-Asean Dialogue Partnership to be held later on Thursday.
Heads of state and government of all 10 Asean nations will be attending the summit.
The Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Under its Act East Policy, New Delhi is pushing to boost its relationship via connectivity, commerce and culture with this regional bloc.
On Friday, Gen. Prayut will be among all 10 Asean heads of state and government who will attend this year’s Republic Day celebrations as guests of honor, something unprecedented, since the leader of only one foreign country has attended the event as the chief guest all these years.
Top: The leaders of the two countries shake hands before their bilateral talks today. Photo: Indiatvnews.com