India, Thailand call for expediting negotiations on FTA

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Bangkok, Sep 14 (UNI) India and Thailand today reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and called for expediting negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Thai counterpart, Nitya Pibulsonggram, who jointly Chaired the Fifth India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) here, expressed satisfaction with trade increase to an expected four billion US dollars this year and set a target of seven billion dollars by 2010.

The External Affairs Minister arrived here last night on the first leg of his two-nation tour to co-chair the Fifth India-Thailand JCM.

From here, he will go to South Korea where also he will co-Chair the Fifth Indo-Republic of Korea Joint Commission Meeting.

Discussions between the External Affairs Minister and his Thai counterpart covered cooperation in security, knowledge industries, ASEAN and BIMSTEC and events related to 60th anniversary of the establishment diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The two Ministers, who had a 30-minute restricted meeting, before co-Chairing the JCM, discussed cooperation in trade and investment, civil aviation, transportation linkages, agriculture, tourism, Defence, security, Science&Technology energy, culture, education, legal and consular matters.

The External Affairs Minister also called on Thai Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont and briefed him on the bilateral discussions and the JCM.

Trade and investment, security and defence, road connectivity to North East through Myanmar, cooperation in BIMSTEC and ASEAN, cooperation during disasters and other emergencies also figured during the discussions.

Later, in his opening remarks at a joint news conference after the JCM, the External Affairs Minister said both countries had agreed to work to further strengthen and diversify the excellent bilateral relations.

He expressed confidence that his visit and the deliberations of the JCM would further strengthen bilateral relations and mark another significant step in realising the rich potential of the relationship for the mutual benefit of the two peoples.

UNI

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