Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Friday expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of discussions between India and Thailand on a number of issues as he concluded his three-day visit to the South East Asian country, which he described as a close neighbour in which New Delhi had some permanent interests.
Speaking to the media aboard his special aircraft, Ansari said India has some permanent interests in Thailand and maritime security was one of them. The issue was not only about keeping the sea lanes open, but also protecting the seas from conventional and non-conventional threats, he said, hinting at how threats like piracy and hard posturing by powerful nations could lead to disruptions in shipping.
With Thailand, he said, India was also looking at improving connectivity through development of the trilateral highway that would pass through Thailand, Myanmar and India. Also, with Thailand being a big and important member of ASEAN, India sees in the relations an opportunity to widen and improve its engagement in the entire region. “We want to have a vibrant multi-dimensional relationship with all ASEAN countries,” he said.
In this light, his visit to Brunei before Thailand was also important as it helped forge agreements in the fields of health, youth affairs, sports and energy security – through the proposed tie-up on a fertiliser plant.
Asked about the increasing role of China in the region and its assistance to some countries in the development of ports and other infrastructure, the vice-president said India is more concerned about the development of its own infrastructure and ports that would provide it a greater presence in the region. “One has to cut the cloth to the right size. We are building our own port capabilities,” he said, adding that in the past two decades India has shown consistent growth.
“Both our defence and technological capabilities have grown by leaps and bounds,” he said. But indicating that all of India’s policies were not China centric, he said India was also developing a port at Chabahar in southeastern Iran to cater to the West Asian region in a better way.
Similarly, about how Thailand viewed its relations with India and China, Ansari sought to underplay the linkage, saying Thailand has all along maintained a careful relationship with all its neighbours. “This is not a new phenomena.”
On the issue of terrorism, Ansari said unfortunately a stage has been reached where it has become a point of discussion at every international forum. “Every country is facing a problem and there is a need to cooperate to tackle terrorism. This has become increasingly clear to every nation. It is no longer a case of “kahin hua hoga, humay pata nahin” (it must have happened somewhere, we do not know).
Like a pandemic which travels across borders, Ansari warned that terrorism also remained a hazard which had the potential to transcend borders and therefore strong, urgent and concerted steps were needed to curb it.