Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa will pay a three-day visit to Thailand beginning Monday during which he will attend a key conference on Indo-Pacific and explore ways to deepen bilateral defence cooperation with the southeast Asian country.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief will be attending the 'Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) Conference' in Bangkok which will hold extensive deliberations on the situation in the strategically key region, officials said. Chiefs of defence forces of 33 countries are scheduled to attend the key conference. The theme for the conference is "Collaboration in a Free and Open Indo–Pacific".
"The conference will provide perspectives on common challenges faced by attending nations and elicit open discussions on the same," the IAF said in a statement. The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China's growing clout in the region.
In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "Quad" Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence. The IAF chief had last year said his force was "very much alive" to emerging threats that could arise in the Indo-Pacific region, and asserted that it was prepared to deal with any challenge to protect India's national interests.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, who is also Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee, will also hold talks with top military brass of Thailand on boosting bilateral defence ties. The defence and security cooperation between India and Thailand have been on an upswing for the last few years. A senior official said the IAF chief's visit will provide further impetus to increase defence cooperation between India and Thailand.