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Vietnam leads in ASEAN’s effort to counter India’s second Covid wave

A plane load of oxygen concentrators from Thailand (Photo: @MEAIndia/Twitter)

Amidst India's burgeoning coronavirus crisis, Vietnam and other countries from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are stepping up aid to support India against the pandemic.

In a meeting with the Indian Ambassador Pranay Kumar Verma earlier this week in Hanoi, the deputy foreign minister of Vietnam pledged to provide medical support in the form of oxygen, medicines and drugs. The Indian ambassador and Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung also discussed India's engagement with ASEAN countries, particularly in the maritime domain.

The Vietnamese foreign office tweeted: "DFM #NguyenQuocDung received Mr Pranay Kumar Verma, #India Ambassador to #VietNam, expressed sympathy for the difficulties & damages caused by the #Covid19 in India. The DFM also expressed his belief that India will soon overcome this difficult & challenging time."

A number of ASEAN countries are providing help to India. Supplies of cryogenic tanks as well as oxygen-related medical equipment arrived in India from Thailand on Saturday. Bangkok sent 15 oxygen concentrators while the Indian community in Thailand contributed another 15 oxygen concentrators.

Thanking Thailand, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar said: "Discussed the Covid-19 challenge and international cooperation with Thai DPM and FM Don Pramudwinai. Appreciated the supplies of cryogenic tanks and other oxygen-related equipment. Confident that we can continue to count on our partnership with Thailand."

Singapore too had provided oxygen cylinders to India. It sent the cylinders through two air force planes after a small ceremony at the Paya Lebar Air Base earlier this week. Singapore's Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Maliki Osman said: "The fighting spirit of the Indian people will prevail. We have witnessed India's immense capabilities in mobilising her people and resources when challenges arise. While our contribution is modest, we hope that it will bring comfort and relief to those in need and encourage those on the frontline in India, who are working tirelessly, to fight on".

Over the past few years, India is strengthening its relations with its eastern and south-eastern neighbours. Under its Act East Policy (AEP), it is not only improving diplomatic connectivity but also physical connectivity with countries like Myanmar and onwards. India is also trying to improve its economic and trade relations with the ASEAN block.

With Vietnam, India has a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, under which the two nations are cooperating in defence industries, the development sector as well as boosting trade and economy. India is also strengthening Vietnam's information technology sector. The two countries are closely cooperating over China-related strategic developments in the Indo-Pacific region as well.