New Delhi: Highlighting the growing closeness in their ties and the strategic nature of their relationship, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung begins his two-day state visit to India Monday, the third high-level exchange between the two countries in two months.
Prime Minister Dung, who begins his India visit by touching down at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, is accompanied by a 50-member business delegation with economic engagement being top on the agenda of bilateral talks.
Dung, who begins his official engagements in India on Tuesday, will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House which would be followed by signing of agreements. The agreements are likely to include one on sister city ties between Ho Chi Minh City and Mumbai, and another one on Bank of India set to open its first branch in Ho Chi Minh City.
His visit comes just a month after that of President Pranab Mukherjee to Vietnam, during which the two sides had inked seven pacts, including between ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) for further cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector. PetroVietnam has offered new blocks to OVL for oil and gas exploration and production, which are under consideration.
Both sides had also inked $100 million Line of Credit defence MoU for procurement of defence equipment from India during the visit. During Dung’s visit the sale of Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, which are co-developed with Russia, to Vietnam are likely to be discussed. India had last year offered four patrol vessels to Vietnam as part of the LoC, which is yet to be finalized.
The Vietnamese visit comes even as both countries are set to launch daily direct flights, with Jet Airways to start flights on Nov 5 between Mumbai, Delhi and Ho Chi Minh city, while Vietnam Airlines will start flights between Hanoi and New Delhi in 2015 under a code share agreement with Jet Airways. The direct flights are expected to give a fillip to economic and tourism ties besides boost people-to-people relations between the two countries.
External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had visited Vietnam at the end of August during which she met the Vietnamese leadership as part of the Modi government’s outreach to the region.
During 2013-14, trade between the two countries stood at $8 billion, registering a growth of over 30 percent over the previous year.
Both sides have identified certain key areas to boost trade, including textiles, chemicals and agro chemicals, machinery, leather and footwear and in finance, tourism and IT.
The visit assumes significance as from 2015 Vietnam will be the country coordinator for India in the ASEAN which will provide greater possibilities for deeper engagement with the regional bloc, the ministry of external affairs said.
Vietnam has tensions with China over the South China Sea and had appealed to India to play a greater role in maintaining maritime safety and security and in settlement of territorial disputes in the disputed South and East China Seas during the visit of Sushma Swaraj to Hanoi.