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Atal draws Thai culture parallel

Bangkok, Oct. 9: No solution may yet be in sight for the Ayodhya tangle at home but Atal Bihari Vajpayee has found a “Ram Rajya” — in neighbouring Thailand.

“While we are both democracies, the structure of governance in our countries is based on our unique national characteristics,” the Prime Minister told the Thai National Assembly this afternoon.

“Our country is a republic, yours is a constitutional monarchy, guided by His Majesty, the King. For you, this is Ram Rajya, an expression that has profound meaning for all Indians,” he said.

Vajpayee’s exposition on the cultural affinity between the two countries was also heard by foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, commerce minister Arun Jaitley, national security adviser Brajesh Mishra and secretary for the region in the foreign ministry R.M. Abhayankar.

“Relations between India and Thailand go back into antiquity. They are both based on the firm foundations of a shared heritage,” the Prime Minister said.

He pointed out that “in some weeks, we in India will celebrate the festival of lights, which we call Deepavali. Two weeks after that, the rivers of Thailand will be alight with lanterns for Loy Krathong, which we observe as Kartik Purnima”.

Later, at a banquet hosted in his honour by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Vajpayee suggested the shared cultural links be extended to other areas of cooperation such as education, science and technology and defence and tourism.

The two sides agreed to go for joint tourist projects, under which the 11 million tourists who visit Thailand and the 3 million that India gets annually can be offered packages to visit both countries at attractive rates.

Sport initiative

Thailand has offered to organise a football tournament for some of the countries in South and Southeast Asia, apparently inspired by a proposal Vajpayee made yesterday.

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