New Delhi. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the Kingdom of Thailand from August 27 to 28.
The Defence Minister held bilateral talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Thailand Gen Prawit Wongsuwon. She also called on Prime Minister of Thailand Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha.
During the meetings, both sides discussed a gamut of issues relating to defence cooperation between India and Thailand. The Ministers welcomed the positive momentum and substantive content of ongoing bilateral defence engagement and discussed measures to further enhance and deepen defence cooperation between India and Thailand.
It was decided to step up military-to-military engagement by commencing bilateral navy exercises. In addition, both countries will explore enhancement of ongoing joint exercises, the MAITREE counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism Army Exercise as well as their SIAM BHARAT Air Force exercise.
Both sides would also expand cooperation on maritime security, focussing on greater sharing of information to develop Maritime Domain Awareness. The Defence Minister offered additional training opportunities for the Royal Thai Army in India, including through tailor made courses in specialised areas, which was welcomed by Thailand.
The Ministers also discussed stepping up defence industry and R&D cooperation. The two sides identified specific areas for such engagement and would discuss this further through institutionalised dialogue mechanisms.
The Defence Minister and the Thai leadership also discussed regional security developments. Both sides noted complementarities in their approaches to the Indo-Pacific region and decided to hold regular consultations on issues of mutual interest.
Sitharaman welcomed Thailand’s forthcoming Chairmanship of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and as the ASEAN country coordinator for India, which would create additional pathways for engagement between India and Thailand, including under the ADMM Plus framework. In this context, the Defence Minister of Thailand welcomed India’s initiative to host the inaugural BIMSTEC Army Exercise and Conclave of Chiefs in India in September 2018 and confirmed Thailand’s participation.