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India, Vietnam to work jointly for free, open Indo-Pacific

This was decided after the bilateral meeting between PM Modi and the visiting Vietnamese President. Vietnam is one of the key neighbours of China, and has resisted Chinese claims in South China Sea.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: March 4, 2018 3:36:34 am
India, Vietnam to work jointly for free, open Indo-Pacific Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

India and Vietnam on Saturday decided to deepen defence and security cooperation, even as they resolved jointly for a free and open Indo-Pacific based on rules-based regional security architecture. This comes in the wake of increasing assertiveness by China in the region, from South China Sea to the South Asian region.

This was decided after the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang on Saturday. Vietnam is one of the key neighbours of China, and has resisted Chinese claims in South China Sea.

“One of the pillars in our strong relationship is defence and security cooperation,” Modi said, after the talks. “We already have strong ties between all branches of our armed forces. Now we have decided to strengthen our cooperation in the field of defence production. We will explore possibilities of co-production and transfer of technology in the defence sector.”

Quang said that security and defence cooperation between the two countries is already “sound”, and they will work towards capacity building, training, and UN peacekeeping. The security dialogue between the two countries will be conducted and they will work closely on regional security challenges, including on “maritime security and cyber security”, he said.

Modi also said that both sides expressed commitment for an open, efficient and rules-based regional architecture and to expand bilateral maritime cooperation further. “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,” Modi said in a media statement in the presence of the Vietnam President.

In a reference to the South China Sea dispute, Quang said Vietnam supports India’s multifaceted “connectivity” with ASEAN and asserted that there must be freedom of navigation and over flight in the region. He said that disputes must be resolved through peaceful means.

“We reaffirm our close collaboration to support India to further its relations and multifaceted connectivity with ASEAN attaching high importance to the maintenance of security, maritime safety and freedom of navigation and over flight, settlement of disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law including ULCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea),” Quang said.

Quang said it is important to respect the diplomatic and legal process in resolution of the dispute. The two strategic partners inked three pacts providing for cooperation in nuclear energy, trade and agriculture, besides deciding to boost ties in oil and gas exploration.

During the talks, Modi said India and Vietnam agreed to deepen trade and investment ties in sectors like oil and gas exploration, renewable energy, agriculture and textiles. He said the two sides will also look for trilateral partnership in oil and gas sector.

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