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India, Vietnam agree to enhance defence ties during President Kovind's visit

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President Ram Nath Kovind and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shake hands at a meeting at Government House in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018. Image credit: RB Photo via PTI.

HANOI (PTI): India and Vietnam agreed to further strengthen bilateral strategic cooperation in the defence and oil and gas sectors as President Ram Nath Kovind held productive and extensive talks with his counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong on Tuesday.

Kovind, who is here on a three-day visit, received a military guard of honour at the Vietnamese Presidential Palace before the talks.

This is Kovind's first visit to South-East Asia and to the ASEAN region as president.

During their talks, the two leaders discussed a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, according to an official statement.

"My talks with President Phu Trong were extensive and productive. Our discussions covered the full range of bilateral and multilateral cooperation," Kovind said.

The two leaders reiterated the importance of building a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region on the basis of respect for national sovereignty and international law.

"We have agreed to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation in defence, peaceful uses of atomic energy and outer space, science and technology, oil and gas, infrastructure development, agriculture and innovation-based sectors," he said.

The two nations also signed three MoUs in the fields of communications, education and trade and investment to take the bilateral agenda forward.

"We committed to further deepen our defence and security cooperation. I reiterated India's commitment to provide training support for Vietnam Armed Forces. We also reviewed the implementation of the Line of Credit of USD 100 million for building high-speed patrol vessels for the Vietnamese Border Guards," the president said.

During their talks the two leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestation.

They agreed to strengthen the global fight against the menace, the statement said.

"We expressed satisfaction that the two countries would soon begin dialogue on strengthening maritime security cooperation," he said.

The two nations agreed to encourage their industries to tap into the growing economic opportunities in their own countries and in the region.

"India-Vietnam economic relations are on an upswing. Our bilateral trade last year stood at USD 12.8 billion. I am confident that our efforts in facilitating our business interactions will enable us to achieve our bilateral trade target of USD 15 billion by 2020," he said.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of MoUs on communications, cooperation between the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam, between the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics in Hanoi and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and a cooperation agreement between the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

The president said his visit to Vietnam came 60 years after the 11-day historic state visit of late Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh to India in 1958.

"I am glad that my first visit in the ASEAN region has been to Vietnam, a strategic pillar of India's Act East Policy, and our key interlocutor in ASEAN," Kovind said.

As comprehensive strategic partners, India and Vietnam have a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual trust, understanding, convergence of views on regional and international issues and strong cooperation in regional and multilateral fora, the president said.

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India  Vietnam  Defence  Kovind  
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