Modi eyes closer ties with Asean
India has set its sights on forging closer trade ties with Asean via an overland route through Myanmar and Thailand, says Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing about 1,000 Indian-Thais at the "Sawasdee PM Modi" gathering at the Nimitbutr Stadium on Saturday evening, Mr Modi encouraged Indian businessmen to show the world their ambition to develop Indian-owned businesses which are a boon not only to their adopted countries but also the motherland.
Mr Modi said Thailand and India share commonalities in many areas -- including language, culture and religion -- which date back thousands of years when the two countries had trade and transport links.
Moreover, the Thai Royal Family has maintained excellent relations with India as is evident through Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn's study of the Sanskrit language and her familiarity with India.
"In the name of 1.3 billion Indians, I would like to express my great respect to the Thai Royal Family. It is a great symbol of the relationship [between Thailand and] India," he added.
The deep-rooted strong relations will only develop further, Mr Modi told the audience, before adding tourism exchanges between the countries are increasing with around 300 direct flights operating weekly between Thailand to 18 cities in India.
The trade partnership is also expected to increase as India's northeast region is set to open as a gateway to Asean under the Indian government's "Act East" policy. Mr Modi is also hopeful that a highway linking India with Thailand will also enhance trade volume between the two countries.
"India is going to move forward. When we speak, the world will listen to us.
"Something is going to change and it has a meaning," he said, adding India will offer scholarships to Asean students to study information technology in India.
Before arriving in Thailand, Mr Modi posted on his twitter: "Connecting with the India diaspora is something I always look forward to." He noted the Indian community's contributions to Thailand in various spheres are valuable.
Mr Modi was expected to join the various Asean related Summits, including the East Asia Summit, and a meeting on RCEP negotiations. The summits are key elements in India's foreign policy, most notably the Act East Policy.