ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Thailand on Thursday agreed to further enhance their bilateral relations in various fields, including trade and economic cooperation, tourism, and defence.
Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who is on an official visit to Pakistan from 9-11 January 2013 at the invitation of Khar, Thursday called on the prime minister and held talks with Foreign Minister Khar. The two foreign ministers held in-depth discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. They also discussed the ways and means to further expand and deepen these relations in various areas.
Khar recalled the highly successful visit of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to Pakistan in March 2012. Her visit opened a new chapter in the history of Royal visits from Thailand to Pakistan. The two foreign ministers expressed satisfaction at the current state of bilateral relations. They emphasised the need to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, investments, education, tourism, science & technology, security, counternarcotics, people-to-people contacts and defence.
The ministers recognised that Pakistan's "Vision East Asia" and Thailand's "Look West" policy complemented each other. Further, the geographical location of Pakistan and Thailand in South Asia and East Asia, respectively, was a major factor that could contribute to the enhancement of bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at the current volume of bilateral trade, which had crossed US $ 1 billion mark. They looked forward to the visit of the Thai Commerce Minister to Pakistan in February this year for the inaugural session of the Joint Trade Committee (JTC). The foreign minister of Thailand welcomed Pakistan's decision to host the 3rd session of Pakistan-Thailand Joint Economic Commission in Islamabad later this year.
The two sides noted the strong cultural linkage between Pakistan and Thailand. Being home to a number of Buddhist sites and Gandhara civilization, Pakistan is a natural source of attraction for religious tourists from Thailand.
The Pakistan side expressed interest in holding a Gandhara Exhibition in Thailand in collaboration with the Thai Government. The idea was welcomed by the Thai side.
The two foreign ministers expressed satisfaction over cooperation in the regional and international forums such as the ACD, ASEM, ARF, ASEAN and the United Nations. Foreign Minister Khar requested Thailand for its continued support to Pakistan's bid for Full Dialogue Partnership with ASEAN. The Pakistan side reiterated its invitation to Yingluck Shinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand to visit Pakistan. The Thai delegation will visit Taxila and places of interest in Islamabad.
Addressing a joint press conference, the two foreign minister expressed their satisfaction agreed to convene the meeting of Joint Trade Commission very soon. Khar said the trade between the two countries has crossed one billion dollars mark this year and expressed the hope that with the meeting of Joint Trade Commission, the trade relations would be further improved.
She said although it was the first ever visit of any Thai Foreign Minister to Pakistan in last ten years, but the two countries have very strong relations and commonality of views on all regional and international issues.
The meeting of Joint Trade Commission will lead to the negotiations for Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, she added.
The Commerce and Trade Minister of Thailand will visit Pakistan next month to further promote trade ties, she added.
Khar said both the countries have also agreed to further cooperate and enhance security dialogue, discuss visa liberal regime, and exchange training programmes at Foreign Office Training Academy.
She said Pakistan and Thailand have also very strong bonds and shared heritage due to Gandhara civilization adding that there is scope for improving religious tourism from Thailand to Pakistan.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Thailand Surapong Tovichakchaikul while addressing the press conference said both the countries celebrated 60 years of their bilateral relations last year and Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited Pakistan last year.
Expressing satisfaction on the meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khan, and terming it fruitful, the Thai Foreign Minister highlighted five points for bilateral relations.
He said it is great satisfaction that bilateral trade has cross the one billion dollar mark this year but still there is room for further enhancing this trade.
He said there has been direct investment from Thailand to Pakistan and expressed the hope it will be further increased in near future. He said the Joint Trade Commission of the two countries will meet very soon to further enhance bilateral trade.
The Thai Foreign Minister said during last year, 56,000 Pakistani visited Thailand that indicated that there has been strong connectivity between the two countries adding that due to Gandhara civilization, there is a scope of religious tourism from Thailand to Pakistan. He said Pakistan could be a gateway for Thailand to improve trade links with Afghanistan and other countries.
On the security issue, the Thai Foreign Minister said both the countries have agreed to further enhance cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
He said Thailand will host third meeting of combating terrorism by end of this month. He however appreciated Pakistan's role in regional stability and fighting terrorism.