Yingluck’s “Key Policy Goal” moves closer: India offers to help Thailand in defence production

When Yingluck first came to power, in her acceptance speech to the Thai parliament, she said building up Thailand’s defense industry, was her priority National Security policy. Since then, things have not gone according to plans, with Thailand’s contining to rely mostly on weapons import. But Indis is now offering to Thailand, cooperation in defense production. The move comes on top of earlier move, by Ukrain, to also do defense production. Times of India” report: “As part of the policy to step up military ties with Asia-Pacific countries, India has offered Thailand collaboration in defence production while stressing there should be “freedom of navigation” in international waters in accordance with the “principles of international law”. In the backdrop of China’s assertive behaviour in the contentious South China Sea, where Beijing in flexing its muscles in maritime territorial disagreements with its neighbours, defence minister A K Antony on Thursday said, “We support the resolution of differences and disputes through the process of dialogue and consensus among the parties to such disputes. All countries must exercise restraint and resolve issues diplomatically.” In Thailand on the last leg of his three-nation whirlwind tour after Singapore and Australia, Antony said both New Delhi and Bangkok “have large stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability in our immediate neighbourhood and in the wider Asia-Pacific region”. Security of the sea lanes and freedom of navigation is “critical to our economic and overall security”, he said, adding that India was of the “consistent view” that ASEAN “is central to any security architecture for the region”. While many see India’s strengthening of military ties with Asia-Pacific countries as “a strategic hedge” against China, New Delhi is also looking to expand bilateral ties with Beijing. Antony will be visiting China in the last week of June to discuss de-escalatory mechanisms along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent military face-offs.The visit is an effort to ensure the fledgling bilateral military ties with China are stepped up with joint military exercises, defence exchanges and confidence-building measures along the unresolved LAC. The joint “Hand-in-Hand” counter-terrorism exercises between the Indian and Chinese armies, for instance, are all set to be resumed later this year after they got derailed with just the first two editions being held at Kunming in China in 2007 and Belgaum in 2008.” (source)

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