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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to visit Vietnam from June 8-10

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will hand over 12 high-speed guard boats to Vietnam during a three-day visit to the Southeast Asian country from Wednesday, in reflection of the growing congruence in maritime security cooperation amid China's increasing muscle-flexing in the region.

The defence ministry said Singh's visit to Vietnam from June 8 to 10 is aimed at further consolidating the bilateral defence ties as well as the comprehensive strategic partnership.

It said the defence minister will hold extensive talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, General Phan Van Giang, with a focus on exploring new initiatives to further strengthen the defence engagements, besides exchanging views on regional and global issues of shared interest.

Singh is also scheduled to call on Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Vietnam, an important country of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region.

India has oil exploration projects in the Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea. India and Vietnam are boosting their maritime security cooperation in the last few years to protect common interests.

"At the Hong Ha Shipyard in Hai Phong, the defence minister will preside over the handing over ceremony of 12 high-speed guard boats constructed under the government of India's USD 100 million defence line of credit to Vietnam," the ministry said in a statement.

"This project is significant in the context of the growing defence industry cooperation with Vietnam and exemplifies Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' and 'Make in India, Make for the World'," it added.

During his Vietnam tour, Singh will also visit training institutions of the country at Nha Trang, including the Telecommunication University where an Army Software Park is being established with a USD 5 million grant from India. He will also attend a community event organised by the Embassy of India in Hanoi and interact with the Indian diaspora.

"The defence minister's visit on the historic occasion of 50 years of establishment of India-Vietnam diplomatic relations and 75 years of India's Independence will further consolidate the bilateral defence cooperation and the comprehensive strategic partnership," the ministry said.

The relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of a "strategic partnership" during the visit of Vietnam's then prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung to India in July 2007.

In 2016, during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Vietnam, the bilateral relations were further elevated to a "comprehensive strategic partnership".

Vietnam has become an important partner in India's Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision.

Last week, Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), visited Vietnam for the 12th round of political consultations and the ninth round of strategic dialogue in Hanoi.

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