India and Thailand decide to boost defense cooperation

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Thai counterpart on Sunday agreed to improve bilateral cooperation in the defense industry sector and explore the possibility of boosting trade ties during their talks outside the ASEAN Summit.

Both leaders also discussed ways to improve connectivity between the two countries, including in the areas of physical and digital spheres, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA).

In a tweet, the Prime Minister's office said both leaders held extensive deliberations on accelerating friendship between India and Thailand .

Modi arrived here on a three-day visit on Saturday to attend the Asean-India, East Asia and RCEP summits.

The MEA said Modi and Chan-o-cha reviewed the progress made in bilateral relations and noted that frequent high-level meetings and exchanges at all levels have created a positive momentum in the relationship.

Noting the increased participation in the defense and security fields, both parties agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in the defense industry sector. Welcoming the 20 percent growth in bilateral trade last year, the leaders decided to commission trade officials to discuss ways and means to improve trade and investment, the MEA said.

He said the two leaders welcomed the growing air connectivity between the two countries and the start of a direct flight between Bangkok and Guwahati and also finalisation of agreements for cooperation between Ranong Port in Thailand and Indian ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam.

Modi and Chan-o-cha also exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

"India and Thailand are close maritime neighbours having historical and cultural linkages. In the contemporary context, India's 'Act East' policy is complimented by Thailand 's 'Look West' policy which has made the relationship deep, robust and multifaceted," the MEA said.

Modi also held a bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.