What's New Speech by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa during Reception on board INS Sujhata and ICGS Varuna in Phuket on Oct. 11, 2012

Speech by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa during Reception on board INS Sujhata and ICGS Varuna in Phuket on Oct. 11, 2012

Speech by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa during Reception on board INS Sujhata & ICGS Varuna in Phuket on Oct. 11, 2012

Vice Governor of Phuket, Ms SOMMAI PREECHANLIP, Deputy Governor of Phuket Mr Somkiat Sangkhaosuthirak, Commander 3rd Naval Area Command Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsawan, Officers of the Royal Thai Navy, Members of the Indian Community in Thailand and Distinguished Guests.

Namaste, Sawasdee Khrab and a Very Good Evening to all of you.

1. At the outset I would like to thank you all for sparing your valuable time from your busy schedules and gracing this evening with your presence. It is indeed a great privilege for me to be here today amongst such a distinguished gathering. Having heard so many good things about Phuket, ever since I was appointed as the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand in Nov 2011, I have wanted to come to this paradise on earth. While it has taken some time for me to have finally made it here, I think that there could have been no more befitting an occasion than this.

2. Thailand and India are maritime neighbors and share values of democracy and pluralism and this brings about convergent views on regional and international issues. Our two countries also have a shared culture and shared ties of religion which date back a thousand years. As the birth place of Lord Buddha, India has a special place in the hearts of the people of Thailand. Thailand, the land of smiles, also has a special place in the hearts of the Indian people. This is evident from the almost one million tourists who come to Thailand every year, many of whom come to Phuket also.

3. The relations between our two countries have been growing from strength to strength. Connectivity, capacity building across sectors, cooperation in space technology, agriculture, energy, environment and biodiversity are some of the areas in which we are working together. Our bilateral trade, which is set to cross US $ 10 billion, is set to get a further boost with the signing of the Free Trade Agreement. As you all know, the year 2012 witnessed the landmark state visit by Prime Minister of Thailand H.E. Yingluck Shinawatra where she was the Chief Guest at India's Republic Day celebrations. Her visit set the path towards a strategic partnership between our two countries which saw six agreements being signed in diverse fields and several new initiatives announced.

4. One of the most important was the MoU on Defence Cooperation between India and Thailand. We already have a significant defence cooperation programme between the armed forces of our countries which consists of exercises, exchange visits and training of personnel at various levels in each other's institutions. As a matter of fact, at present, some of our young officers are undergoing training in prestigious Thai military institutions and staff colleges and we look forward to welcoming young Thai officers to our military training centers and Staff colleges in the time ahead. The MoU signed in January is set to take our defence cooperation to the next level.

5. As I had mentioned earlier, our trade is set to cross US$10 billion, most of which you know takes place by the maritime route. The free flow of goods is possible thanks to the professionalism and vigilance of the Royal Thai Navy and the Indian Navy and the team work between them. As two of the most advanced and modern navies of the region, their efforts to safeguard our Sea Lines of Communication are noteworthy and commendable. The Coordinated Patrolling carried out by the two navies have not only enhanced mutual confidence levels but have also led to effective implementation of the Law of the Sea to prevent illegal activities. With both India and Thailand sitting astride one of the most important shipping lanes, the responsibility to ensure free flow of trade and goods is only going to increase in the future.

6. Some of you may be aware that the the Indian Naval Sailing Ship Sudharshini has embarked on a voyage to mark twenty years of India-ASEAN partnership. The sail ship Sudharshini would re-create the voyages of ancient mariners who linked India to South East Asia, sowing the seeds of our common heritage. Amongst its various ports of calls in the ASEAN countries is Bangkok in January 2013 and Phuket in Feb 2013.

7. Other events to mark the historical landmark, which would be of particular interest to you, is a car rally that would comprise teams from all ASEAN nations and India. Beginning in Indonesia, it would criss-cross eight ASEAN nations to culminate in Guwahati, India. In Thailand, the rally would traverse its longest distance in any country. It would be passing through Phuket on 30 Nov. The Embassy of India would be hosting a Reception and organizing other related activities during that time I would like to request your participation and attendance for the same. Invitations for the events would be forwarded by the Embassy shortly.

8. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the Thai-Indian community, which has served as a bridge between our two countries. Their hard work, and contributions made by Indian expatriates who occupy some significant positions in the society, in business and in important institutions in Phuket and in the other parts of Thailand, have greatly strengthened the links between India and Thailand.

9. Finally all that remains is for me to thank The Governor of Phuket H.E. Mr Maitre Inthusud for the assistance and support provided by his administration to the members of the Indian community and the thousands of Indian tourists who come to this paradise on earth. I would also like to convey my sincere thanks to the Commander, 3rd Naval Area Command Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsawan and his staff for the excellent support and care provided by them to the Indian Navy ships and personnel that visit Phuket.

10. I hope you have an enjoyable evening and I look forward to more such interactions in the future.

Khop Khun Khrab.