Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reached New Delhi on 27 October 2014, on a two-day visit. He held talks on a range of issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As India widens its arc of influence, Vietnam has emerged as pillar of New Delhi’s “Look East Policy”, which entails long-term strategic engagement with countries that are located east of it.
New age missiles, warships and additional training of Navy personnel were on the agenda during Dung’s visit.
There is also a prospect of India launching Vietnam’s satellites into space and this was among the long-list of items identified as ‘expansion of bilateral relations’.
India and Vietnam signed an agreement for oil exploration in South China Sea. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung declared that Indian ships would be allowed into the area despite Chinese protestations.
India has interests in freedom of navigation in South China sea, for cargo carrying ships through the waters and oil exploration blocks. Vietnam is one of the six countries along with China which dispute each other’s territorial limits at sea and the matter is pending in the United Nations for a final decision. India has stated a target of achieving a $100 billon trade with the ASEAN by 2015 and needs free shipping rights for effective trade exchange.
Having surpassed the 2015 trade target of $7 billion, both sides raised the bar to set it at $15 billion by 2020. India has also offered a $300 million credit line to Vietnam for trade diversification. This is in addition to the $100 million for defence procurement.
On his part, Prime Minister Modi said both sides saw opportunities to increase trade and enhance Indian participation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, textiles, chemicals, machinery, agro-processing and information technology in Vietnam.He said both sides decided to continue to work together in regional forums including East Asia Summit and India-ASEAN Summit.
The Vietnamese Prime Minister emphasised that both sides agreed to bring into full play the existing mechanisms for bilateral cooperation such as the inter-government committee, strategic dialogue, political consultation, defence dialogue, and security dialogue among others.