Bangkok: India and Thailand have a shared interest in the security of international sea lanes for communication and commerce, India's Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Wednesday.
"As maritime neighbours, we have a shared interest in the security of international sea lanes of communication and commerce," Ansari said at a banquet hosted in Bangkok in his honour by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
"Our resolve to strengthen our bilateral engagement in the areas of security and defence will help the region as a whole and promote greater regional economic integration and connectivity," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ansari arrived at Bangkok on a three-day visit to Thailand at the official invitation of Prime Minister Prayut.
It is the first visit by an Indian vice president to this southeast Asian nation in 50 years and is the second and final leg of his visit to southeast Asia, the first of which took him to Brunei.
He said cooperation between India and Thailand, both bilaterally and in the rubric of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), encompassed diverse areas of mutual interest including trade and investment, science and technology, education, and cultural exchanges.
"People-to-people contacts at various levels are the lifeblood of our friendship. I am pleased that our two countries have taken important steps in the pursuit of closer cooperation, stronger connectivity and greater commerce," the vice president said.
He also said Thailand was an important policy of India's Act East policy.
Stating that both the countries were engaged in transforming into modern knowledge economies, he said: "India is a bright spot with the highest economic growth amongst the larger emerging countries.
"There is growing interest from across the world in building partnerships of trade, investment and innovation with India. I would urge the government and business community in Thailand to avail of the opportunities provided by a growing India."
Ansari said there was a promising future to the bilateral relations between India and Thailand.
"With its unique geographic location, Thailand can be a bridge linking southeast Asia to east Asia; while India can act as your springboard to west and central Asia and to Europe," he said.
"Our talks earlier today have put in place a roadmap for further strengthening our economic cooperation and intensification of our collaborations in all areas."
He said that as India and Asean would mark the 25th anniversary of their dialogue relations, New Delhi looked forward to working with Bangkok under the framework of Asean.
"We shall strive to strengthen the India-Asean partnership, as also the Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and Mekong-Ganga Cooperation," the vice president said.
He said the challenges of the 21st century were enormous and merited common understanding and joint efforts.
"Globalisation of terrorism, impact of climate change on humanity and the health hazards which know no borders require global action. The international community is grappling with issues related to migration and integration of people," Ansari said.
"Our cultures with a civilisational heritage of peace, pluralism and co-existence can offer lessons and lasting solutions," he stated.