National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with Vietnam's Minister of Public Security To Lam, in New Delhi on Monday (Image courtesy: Minister of Public Security, Vietnam)
Signalling its desire to have a less intertwined future with China, Vietnam has vowed to deepen the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with New Delhi to maintain peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
Leading a high-ranking delegation to New Delhi at the invitation of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security General To Lam spent two days in the Indian capital at the start of this week, jointly mapping out the future defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
At the talks, NSA Doval and General To Lam, who is also the Politburo Member of Vietnam’s Communist Party, worked on a detailed plan to enhance the linkages on strategic, security and defence matters.
The Vietnamese minister suggested that in the coming time, the two sides continue to strengthen comprehensive cooperation in the fields of defence, security, economy, digital transformation, green economy and creating favourable conditions for people-to-people exchanges.
With India being the current chair of the world’s leading group of developed and emerging economies (G20), General To Lam said that Vietnam wants New Delhi to play a bigger role in the international arena, especially in the United Nations. He also thanked India for always supporting Vietnam’s role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Both leaders further reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific Region.
India, which has expressed concerns about actions and incidents in the South China Sea that erode trust in the region, stressed the importance of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reaffirmed that any differences must be resolved peacefully by respecting international law, without resorting to threats, aggression or the unilateral or forceful change in the status quo.
In subsequent meetings with Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Minister of State of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai, General To Lam asserted that India and Vietnam should strengthen cooperation to deal with many “complicated” traditional and non-traditional security challenges in the region.
Vietnam remains an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy and a key partner of its Indo-Pacific Vision underlined by Prime Minister Modi’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) initiative.
India and Vietnam have shared a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2016 and defence cooperation remains a key pillar of this partnership.
Last June, during his visit to Hanoi at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Giang, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spotlighted that both countries share a rich history of civilisational and cultural linkages spanning over 2,000 years.
The two countries signed a ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’ which significantly enhances the scope and scale of existing bilateral defence cooperation.
During Singh’s visit, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Logistics Support was also inked which is a major step towards simplifying procedures for mutually beneficial logistic support and is the first such major agreement which Vietnam has signed with any country.
At the same time, bilateral defence engagements continue to expand through Defence Policy Dialogues, military-to-military exchanges, high-level visits, capacity building and training programmes, cooperation in UN Peacekeeping, ship visits and bilateral exercises.
Handing over 12 High-Speed Guard Boats to the Southeast Asian country during his visit to Hong Ha Shipyard in Hai Phong last year, Singh invited Vietnam to become a part of India’s defence industrial transformation through enhanced cooperation which will take forward PM Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.
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