India inks vision document with Vietnam, to give $500mn defence Line of Credit

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Planning to broadbase the “scope and scale” of its defence ties with Vietnam by 2030, India has inked a vision document with the Southeast Asian country.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held bilateral talks with Vietnam’s Minister of National Defence General Phan Van Giang in Hanoi.

Wide-ranging discussions on effective and practical initiatives to further expand bilateral defence engagements and regional and global issues were held between the two sides.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Logistics Support was also inked. In these times of increasing cooperative engagements between the defence forces of the two countries, this is a major step towards simplifying procedures for mutually beneficial logistic support and is the first such major agreement which Vietnam has signed with any country.

“Had an excellent meeting with General Phan Van Giang, the Defence Minister of Vietnam. We renewed interactions on expanding bilateral cooperation. Our close Defence and Security cooperation is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Singh had tweeted.

During the meeting, both Ministers also agreed for early finalisation of $500 million Defence Line of Credit extended to Vietnam. Implementation of the projects will add substantially to Vietnam’s defence capabilities and further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Make in India and Make for the World.

Singh, during his three-day visit, also announced gifting two simulators and monetary grant towards setting up of Language and IT Lab at Air Force Officers Training School for capacity building of Vietnamese Armed Forces.

India and Vietnam have shared a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) since 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership.

Singh also handed over 12 high-speed guard boats under India’s existing $100 million defence line of credit to Vietnam. The initial five boats were built in the Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Shipyard in India and the other seven in Hong Ha Shipyard. Senior civil and military officials of India and Vietnam were present during the handing over ceremony.

Singh described the project as a glowing example of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ as envisioned by Modi.

He said the successful completion of the project, despite the challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic, is testimonial to the commitment and professional excellence of the Indian defence manufacturing sector as also of Hong Ha Shipyard. He exuded confidence that the project will be a precursor to many more cooperative defence projects between India and Vietnam in future.

India and Vietnam share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership. Vietnam is an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision. Both countries share a rich history of civilisational and cultural linkages spanning over 2,000 years. India and Vietnam continue to have most trustworthy relations in contemporary times with broader convergence of interests and common concerns. Bilateral defence engagements have expanded over a period of time to include wide-ranging contacts between the two countries, including Defence Policy Dialogues, military to military exchanges, high level visits, capacity building and training programs, cooperation in UN Peace Keeping, ship visits and bilateral exercises.

Rajnath Singh invited Vietnam to become a part of India’s defence industrial transformation through enhanced cooperation. He asserted that the Indian defence industry has substantially increased its capabilities under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ vision of the Prime Minister. He stressed that the objective is to build a domestic industry in order to make India a defence manufacturing hub which not only caters to the domestic needs, but also fulfills international requirements.

He also visited Tran Quoc Pagoda, a revered Buddhist temple which reaffirmed the age-old civilisational and people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

Vietnam, an important country of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region.

Singh also visited the training institutions of Vietnam on the final day of his three-day official visit to the Southeast Asian country. He visited Air Force Officers Training School at Nha Trang. He handed over a gift of one million dollars on behalf of Government of India for the establishment of a language and IT laboratory in the school. Addressing the officers at the school, he hoped that the laboratory would substantially contribute to sharpen the language and IT skills of Air Defence and Air Force personnel of Vietnam.

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