New Delhi | Vice President Hamid Ansari will leave on a five-day tour of Brunei and Thailand beginning tomorrow to carry forward India’s bilateral engagements with the two South East Asian countries as part of its Act East policy. He will go to Brunei first at the invitation of crown prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah. This will be the first high- level visit from India since the establishment of diplomatic relations with Brunei in May, 1984. Brunei was on the itinerary of Ansari’s two-nation trip in November, but he had to return home from Indonesia, which was hit by a volcano.
The Vice President will be accompanied by Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, four MPs and senior officials. Ansari will hold talks with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Billah on issues of bilateral and multilateral significance, including civil aviation, space, trade and investment, hydrocarbons, information and communication. Cooperation in ASEAN and East Asia Summit and other multilateral fora will also be on the agenda and a couple of MoUs on health and defence cooperation will be signed. Ansari will deliver an address at the University of Brunei Darussalam and address the Indian community at a reception.
Brunei is an important partner for India in ASEAN and besides contributing to energy security, hosts a 10,000-strong Indian community. From Brunei, Ansari will go to Thailand on February 3 at the invitation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, making it the first visit by an Indian Vice President after a gap of 50 years. In Thailand, he will hold talks with Chan-o-cha and have an audience with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. He will also deliver a speech at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok on ‘From Look East to Act East: India’s Partnership with Thailand and ASEAN’ and address the Indian community at a reception to be hosted by the Indian Ambassador to Thailand. India’s relations with Thailand are an important and integral component of its strategic partnership with ASEAN. India’s ‘Act East’ policy is complemented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy in bringing the two countries closer.
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