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Rajnath Singh to visit Vietnam amid growing demand for Brahmos missiles in Southeast Asia

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with models of the Brahmos missiles (Photo: ANI)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh plans to visit south-east Asia in the second week of January to commemorate the golden jubilee of diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City.

This will be his first-ever visit to south-east Asia since the pandemic.

High on the agenda are defence exports and joint collaboration over maintenance of defence equipment. The Economic Times says that Vietnam has expressed interest in buying the Brahmos missiles from India.

India has been in talks for selling the Brahmos missiles not just to Vietnam but other nations as well.

The co-director of BrahMos Aerospace, Alexander Maksichev had said last year that contracts for the export of BrahMos cruise missiles will be signed once the coronavirus pandemic ends, as such deals require in-person government meetings. The Eurasia Times added that the south-east Asian nations are likely to be a major market for the Brahmos.

The Philippines too is in advanced stages of procuring the Brahmos missiles from India. It has allocated 2.8 billion pesos ($55.5 million) for the initial funding of the weapon system, says WION news.

India and Vietnam, who signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership treaty in 2016, are building defence relations steadily. Also, India had extended a line of credit (LoC) worth $100 million to Vietnam for a range of items including defence purchases.

On 28 November 2021, Rajnath Singh held online talks with Vietnamese Minister of Defence, General Ngo Xuan Lich over defence cooperation activities. The two discussed plans to bolster cooperation in military medicine, UN peacekeeping operations, the defence industry, and capacity building defence personnel.

In April last year, Vietnam inducted a high-speed patrol boat built with India assistance. More such boats are being built jointly in India and the south-east Asian country.

In the face of a common threat from China, both India and Vietnam have resolved to strengthen defence cooperation through regular naval patrols and exercises. India is also training Vietnamese military personnel.

The Indian military is helping the Vietnam defence ministry in building IT systems. The two nations are also laying emphasis on cementing ties in the fields of IT, science, trade and economic cooperation.