India, Vietnam reiterate importance of peaceful Indo-Pacific

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Hanoi, Nov 20 (IANS) India and Vietnam reiterated the importance of building a peaceful Indo-Pacific region during a meeting between President Ram Nath Kovind and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong here on Tuesday.

The two sides also signed three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in the fields of communications, education and trade and investment.

“Our discussions covered the full range of bilateral and multilateral cooperation,” Kovind said in an address to the media following the meeting.

“We reiterated the importance of building a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region on the basis of respect for national sovereignty and international law,” he said.

Vietnam is a key partner of India in Southeast Asia and the bilateral relationship was elevated to that of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in 2016

Vietnam also served as country coordinator for India with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc for three years till July this year.

New Delhi has been stressing on the centrality of Asean’s role in ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

India is also part of a quad, also comprising the US, Japan and Australia, that was revived last year to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, a region that stretches from the east coast of Japan to the east coast of Africa.

This came in the face of China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and Beijing’s belligerence in the South China Sea region.

Kovind said that during his talks with President Trong, they agreed to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation in defence, peaceful uses of atomic energy and outer space, science and technology, oil and gas, infrastructure development, agriculture and innovation-based sectors.

“We committed to further deepen our defence and security cooperation,” he said.

“I reiterated India’s commitment to provide training support for Vietnam Armed Forces.”

The two leaders also reviewed the implementation of the Indian line of credit of $100 million for building high-speed patrol vessels for Vietnamese Border Guards.

“We condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestation and agreed to strengthen global fight against this menace,” Kovind said.

“We expressed satisfaction that the two countries would soon begin dialogue on strengthening maritime security cooperation.”

Kovind said that both sides agreed to “encourage our industry to tap into the growing economic opportunities in our own countries and in the region”.

India-Vietnam bilateral trade at $12.8 billion last year.

Prior to his meeting with Trong, Kovind addressed the National Assembly during which he said that India and Vietnam shared a common vision for the Indo-Pacific.

Kovind also described Vietnam as a key pillar of India’s Act East Policy under which is New Delhi is increasing its engagements with Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam is always on our minds, and always in our hearts,” he said. “It is pivotal to India’s Act East policy.”

Kovind arrived here on Sunday on the first leg of his week-long two-nation trip that will also take him to Australia.

This is his first visit to Southeast Asia after assuming office in July last year.

–IANS

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