India and Vietnam signed seven agreements for cooperation in areas such as defence, petrochemicals and nuclear energy and unveiled a joint vision for peace and prosperity against the backdrop of concerns in both countries about China’s aggressive actions across the region.
Participating in a virtual summit with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Vietnam as “an important pillar of India’s Act East policy and an important ally of our Indo-Pacific vision”.
“We see our relationship with Vietnam from a long-term and strategic view. Peace, stability and prosperity are our common objectives in the Indo-Pacific region. Our partnership can contribute significantly to maintain stability and peace in the region,” Modi said.
Nyugen Xuan Phuc said the upgrading of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016 had bolstered trust and bolstered understanding of other’s vision and interests on international issues. He said the Vietnamese side had aso agreed on India’s proposals for a further defence line of credit.
Modi said the seven agreements signed by the two countries cover diverse issues such as defence, nuclear power, petrochemicals, renewable energy and treatment of cancer. “We are also taking new initiatives in the area of our development cooperation and cultural conservation. All this shows the expansion and potential of our growing mutual cooperation,” he added.
The meeting was held at a time when both countries are grappling with China’s aggressive actions in the region. India is locked in a military standoff with China in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) while Vietnam has major differences over Chinese claims within its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
The two leaders released a joint vision document and a plan of action for bilateral engagements during 2021-23. “This joint vision for peace, prosperity and people will send a strong message to the world about the depth of our relationship,” Modi said.
India’s is currently implementing a $100-million defence line of credit for 12 high speed patrol boats for Vietnam. The boats being built for the Vietnam Border Guard are meant to enhance coastal security and prevent illegal activities.
Five vessels are being built at Larsen & Toubro’s shipyard in Chennai, and the rest will be made at Hong Ha shipyard in the Vietnamese port city of Hai Phong under the Indian firm’s supervision.
Both countries also have stakes in the Indo-Pacific region and significant maritime interests, and the summit enabled them to look at potential cooperation on India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and Asean’s Indo-Pacific outlook.
India and Vietnam will also concurrently serve as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council from 2021, and this has opened up new opportunities for cooperation and coordination on regional and international issues.