India-Myanmar-Thailand highway to boost ties, enhance connectivity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India attached great importance to the growing ties with Thailand and East Asia in general even as he emphasised the importance of India on the international stage, saying that India’s stand is based on the common good and that the country's values will shape the world in the years to come.

At the `Sawasdee Modi’ event arranged in his honour, the prime minister said India and Thailand are bound by history and that their ties grow stronger with each passing day."India's North East will become a gateway to Southeast Asia by linking Thailand through Myanmar, Modi said. 
"This is my first official visit to Thailand, and I can feel a lot of Indianness here. The entire world celebrated Diwali along with India, and I can see that it was the case here too," he said at 'Sawasdee PM Modi', an event held to interact with members of the Indian community in Bangkok on the first day of his visit to the Southeast Asian country.
Describing the strong ties that bind India with Thailand, PM Modi claimed that even Queen Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is a Sanskrit scholar with a deep India connect. "Friends, have you given a thought to how strong our relationship has become? What's the reason for this? There is a simple answer for this: Our relationship is not one that exists between governments. Through all of history, because of every historical incident, our relations have been lifted to new heights," he said, even as the crowds responded with loud chants of "Modi, Modi".
"You have wished me Sawasdee Modi, but do you know what it means? This Sanskrit word -- a combination of the words su and asthi -- means kalyan (welfare)," he said.
PM Modi said that while the ties between the two countries are strong, his government wants to bring them even closer by transforming India's Northeast region into a gateway to Southeast Asia. "Once the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway is opened, there will be seamless connectivity between both our countries. I am glad that all of you will have a chance to be part of this story," he said.
The subject of Jammu and Kashmir, which was recently shorn of its special status and bifurcated into two distinct union territories, also came up in his address. "We are working towards achieving goals that used to appear impossible to achieve. You must be aware that my government has taken a decision to end one of the root causes of separatism and terrorism in the country," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Prime Minister of Thailand Gen (ret.) Prayut Chan-o-Cha on 3rd November 2019 on the sidelines of 35th ASEAN Summit, 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) and 16th India-ASEAN Summit.
During the meeting both leaders reviewed the progress made in bilateral relationship and noted that frequent high level meetings and exchanges at all levels have created positive momentum in the relationship. 
During Modi’s meeting with Prime Minister of Thailand Gen (ret) Prayut Chan-o-Cha the two leaders agreed on enhanced engagement in defence and security fields, specifically to explore opportunities for cooperation in defence industries sector. 
Welcoming 20 per cent growth in bilateral trade last year, leaders decided to task the trade officials to discuss ways and means to enhance trade and investment.
The prime ministers also discussed ways to enhance connectivity between the two countries, including in the areas of physical and digital connectivity. Both leaders welcomed the growing air connectivity between the two countries and start of a direct flight between Bangkok and Guwahati and also finalisation of agreements for cooperation between Ranong Port, Thailand and Indian ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam.
The leaders also exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. PM Modi thanked Thai PM for the invitation extended to him to attend the ASEAN related meetings, and also congratulated him on his leadership as chair of ASEAN. He positively assessed the contribution of Thailand as the country coordinator for India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for further strengthening this relationship.
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, Modi pointed out.
Prime Minister Modi will attend the 16th ASEAN-India Summit, the 14th East Asia Summit and the third summit meeting of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as part of his three-day visit to Thailand. He will also participate in the annual East Asia summit and partake in a special leaders' luncheon organised by his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-o-cha, on Monday.