Remarks by Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla...
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Remarks by Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla During Reception on Board
INS Sujata at Phuketon 23 April 2014

His Excellency Maitri Inthosut, Governor of Phuket
Rear Admiral Prayooth Putian, Chief of Staff, 3rd Naval Area Command and all officers of the Royal Thai Navy
Commander Happy Mohan and officers of the 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaste, Sawadee Khrab and Good Evening,

At the outset I would like to thank you for sparing valuable time from your busy schedules to grace this special occasion with your presence.
At a personal level, this is my first visit to this part of Thailand. I can now safely pronounce that Phuket has more than fully lived up to its global reputation for extraordinary natural beauty and the warm hospitality of its people.While I would have wanted to make my visit here earlier, I do believe that there could not have been a more befitting occasion for me to do so than the visit of the ships of the 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy to Phuket.

India and Thailand are maritime neighbors with historical, cultural and spiritual ties which date back to thousands of 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 one million Indian tourists who visit Thailand every year, many of whom come to your beautiful city.

In recent years, we have seen relations between India and Thailand grow from strength to strength. Connectivity, capacity building, cooperation in space technology, agriculture, energy, environment and biodiversity are some of the areas in which we are working together. Our bilateral trade, currently at US $ 9 billion, is set to get a further boost with the signing of a Free Trade Agreement under negotiation between our two countries.

As neighboring countries sharing a common maritime border, we have a significant cooperation programme between our armed forces.The MoU on Defence Cooperation signed between our two countries in 2012, provides the template for such cooperation, which consists of exercises, exchange of visits and training of personnel at various levels in each other's institutions. Our two navies recently concluded the 18th Cycle of Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) at Port Blair. I am also aware that the 3rd Naval Area Command is at the forefront of enhancing our cooperation. Regular port visits to Phuket by Indian Naval ships allow us to carry out combined activities like professional exchanges and exercises, friendly sporting fixtures, cultural and social interactions, and last but not the least, community service programmes.

As I had mentioned earlier, trade between our two countries is set to cross the US$10 billion mark. Most of this trade takes place through the maritime route. The free flow of goods is facilitated by the professionalism and vigilance of the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy and the team work between them. The Coordinated Patrolling carried out by two of the most advanced and modern navies of the region have not only enhanced mutual confidence levels but have also led to effective implementation of the Law of the Seas to prevent illegal activities. With both India and Thailand sitting astride one of the most important international maritime shipping lanes, the responsibility to safeguard these sea lines of communication is only likely to increase in the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the Indian community in Thailand, which has served as a bridge between our two countries. Their success is the result of hard work, diligence and enterprise.Indian communities, wherever they are, have always contributed to the societies they live in, and the community in Phuket is no exception.I encourage them to continue to play a role in strengthening links between the country of their origin and the country of their residence.

I wish to thank the Governor of Phuket, H.E. Mr. Maitre Inthusud, for the assistance and support provided by his administration to the increasingly large number of Indian tourists who visit Phuket.

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to Rear Admiral Prayoot Putian and the officers and sailors of the 3rd Naval Area Command for the warm welcome and excellent support extended to the ships of the Indian Navy and their personnel during their visit to Phuket. My thanks also to Captain Nathapol and his staff from the Office of the Foreign Liaison Division, Naval Intelligence Department, Royal Thai Navy Headquarters in Bangkok for the assistance and facilitation extended to all cooperation activities between our two navies.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish Commander Happy Mohan and all officers and sailors of the 1st Training Squadron the very best for their training deployment. May you have clear skies, fair winds and a safe and professionally enriching experience.

May I now invite you to join me in a toast after the Royal Anthem of Thailand and the National Anthem of India are played.

("Royal Anthem of Thailand")
("National Anthem of India")

-To the good health and long life of His Majesty, The King of Thailand;
-To the President of the Republic of India and to our continued friendship and cooperation.
I wish you an enjoyable evening.

***


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