Updated: October 29, 2014 11:51:06 am
In a first overt gesture of strengthening defence ties with Vietnam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung that New Delhi will be selling “new naval vessels” to Vietnam under the recently-announced $100 million Line of Credit.
Modi and Tan held bilateral talks during the latter’s third visit to India as the PM. This is the first significant military hardware supply between India and Vietnam, ever since the South China Sea issue came to the fore.
“We will quickly operationalise the $100 million Line of Credit that will enable Vietnam (to) acquire new naval vessels from India,” Modi said, with Tan standing beside him, after the talks at Hyderabad House.
Sources said Vietnam had agreed to buy four patrol vessels for its navy under the Line of Credit scheme. Hanoi wants the vessels for surveillance off its coast and around its military bases in the Spratly island chain in South China Sea where it is building a naval bulwark to China with Kilo-class submarines from Russia.
“Our defence cooperation with Vietnam is among our most important ones. India remains committed to the modernisation of Vietnam’s defence and security forces. This will include expansion of our training programme, which is already very substantial, joint exercises and cooperation in defence equipment,” the Prime Minister said.
Sources also said talks are on to train Vietnam Air Force pilots in flying Sukhoi fighters. India is already training the Vietnam Navy personnel in operating the Kilo-class submarine among other areas.
Tan said, “Both sides agreed to move forward (with) concrete cooperation in national defence and security, an important pillar of the Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership,” adding that Vietnam highly appreciated India’s position on the East Sea issue.
“Today, our partnership is important for promoting our nations’ prosperity and essential for advancing peace and stability in our shared neighbourhood. We have shared interests in maritime security, including freedom of navigation and commerce and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes in accordance with international law,” Modi said.
The leaders also called for “restraint” and “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea, where China is locked in a bitter dispute with Vietnam and other nations.
Apart from agreements in oil and gas exploration, the two countries signed five pacts for cooperation in sectors like education, culture and broadcasting, conservation and restoration of the world heritage site of MySon in Vietnam’s Quang Nam Province and the Nalanda university project.
The countries also agreed to increase cooperation in space projects and in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Modi also invited Vietnamese companies to join ‘Make in India’ programme.
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