Ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s likely visit to Vietnam next month, the two countries are expected to discuss cooperation in defence and energy when External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj visits Hanoi from August 24 to 26.
These flurry of visits will take place ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in September this year. Vietnam has renewed the lease for Indian companies to conduct oil exploration in South China Sea for one more year and this move is not expected to go down well with Beijing.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Friday, “India and Vietnam enjoy excellent political relations. We expect that the External Affairs Minister’s visit to Vietnam will pave the way for high-level exchange of visits between India and Vietnam during the course of the year.”
“We see prospects in the current situation in terms of enhancing our ties including in areas such as textile, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products,” Akbaruddin said.
Asked if the issue of defence cooperation will be discussed, he said “in the world of diplomacy, some things are better left unsaid and defence cooperation is one of those”.
Talking about India’s lease of oil blocks, he said Indian companies have felt, for techno-commercial reasons, that they would like to avail the opportunity to explore those oil blocks for a further period of one year. He said that earlier the companies had found that it would be difficult to utilise those because of lack of availability of deep sea rigs there.
“However, they had extended for a two-year period (in 2012) and since then, the situation in terms availability of such rigs has improved. So Indian oil company has agreed to extend the option to explore for another year,” he said.