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India, Vietnam carry out nearly 3-week drills in Chandimandir

NEW DELHI (PTI): The armies of India and Vietnam carried out a nearly three-week military exercise in Chandimandir in Haryana in sync with growing defence and security ties between the two countries.

The Indian Army said it was for the time that the Vietnam People's Army (VPA) undertook a field training exercise with a foreign army.

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.

"What made the exercise unique was the fact that it was the first time ever that the Vietnam People's Army was undertaking a field training exercise with any foreign Army," the Indian Army said in a statement.

"The fact that Vietnam chose India for this honour, speaks volumes about the value the two countries place on their mutual relationship," it said about the 'VINBAX 2022' exercise.

The exercise that began on August 1 was focused on deployment of Army engineering and medical teams in UN Peacekeeping operations.

Vietnam has deployed a contingent in UN peacekeeping operations for the first time in South Sudan while India has a long and rich tradition of contributing to UN peacekeeping missions.

"The contingents from the two countries underwent theory classes followed by practical exercises to validate the learning. The final validation exercise nicknamed 'Men in Blue' was built around the setting up of a base in a remote African location faced with myriad challenges," the Army said.

Relations between India and Vietnam were elevated to the level of 'strategic partnership' during the visit of Vietnam's then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to India in July 2007.

In 2016, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Vietnam, 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.

In May, 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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