Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang on Sunday expressed gratitude for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at the ASEAN-India summit last November regarding India’s Act East Policy (AEP). India and Vietnam signed three Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) on the concluding day of President Quang’s three-day state visit to India, his first in this capacity. The three agreements dealing with nuclear cooperation, agriculture and trade strengthen India’s ties with Vietnam in light of India’s Act East Policy.
President Quang also backed India’s permanent membership to United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as per ANI.
The policy was formulated to focus on creating an “extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region”. The policy which dealt with economic and trade issues initially also assumed political, strategic and cultural dimensions. Under the AEP, India has sought to deepen ties with Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, Singapore, ASEAN and other countries in the Asia-Pacific.
“We wish to express our gratitude for, and most highly appreciate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at the ASEAN–India Summit in November last year that ‘India’s Act East policy is shaped around the ASEAN,” said President Quang in his address to the media.
India and Vietnam signed three crucial bilateral agreements on Saturday and also called for a a rules-based regional architecture. President Quang had detailed discussions with PM Modi and the Indian delegation on key bilateral issues like defence, energy and agriculture.
The partnership with Vietnam assumes greater significance in terms of tackling Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific. PM Modi said that both countries decided to collaborate on defence production and transfer of technology.
“We will jointly work for an open, independent and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international laws are respected and where differences are resolved through talks,” PM Modi said in a joint statement on Saturday. “Both sides are committed towards expanding the bilateral maritime cooperation and for an open, efficient and rules-based regional architecture,” he said.
Modi said that India and Vietnam would strengthen and bilateral economic ties and trade. The two countries decided to explore larger opportunities for trade and investment in renewable energy, textiles, oil and gas exploration, agriculture etc.
This is the first state visit for the Vietnamese president to India. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also had a meeting with President Quang on Saturday.
Quang’s visit comes soon after the summit where PM Modi spoke about the AEP as one of the main aspects of his foreign policy. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was also part of the summit and was later called as one of the chief guests at the Republic Day celebrations in January. The most recent visit further clears India’s growing need to partner with Vietnam, a country that has had long-standing disputes with China. India, apart from helping the Vietnamese military in the past in capacity building, had also extended a $500 million line of credit for defence cooperation two years ago. The latest decision to move on defence production and transfer of technology appeared to be the next step in the same process.
Another strong pitch by Quang was for stronger and deeper aviation and maritime connectivity. China has had conflicts with countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Brunei over maritime claims and connectivity in the South China Sea.