New Delhi: In a signal to China, India and Vietnam today decided to upgrade their diplomatic ties to ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership‘, even as New Delhi inked a contract to supply offshore high-speed patrol boats to Hanoi. India also decided to extend a $500 million line of credit to Vietnam for buying defence equipment from India.
The warships would be built by Indian engineering major Larsen & Toubro through a $100 million line of credit that India had extended to Vietnam earlier.
Vietnam and India will celebrate the 10 years of ‘strategic relationship’ in 2017, but by then the ties would be on a par with the ones Vietnam enjoys only with Russia and China. The defence cooperation will ramp up to unprecedented levels as and when New Delhi finally decides to supply the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which has been on Hanoi’s wishlist for a long while now.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Hanoi on a bilateral visit, described the ties with Vietnam as a “strong pillar” of India’s ‘Act East’ policy. “Our bilateral ties are based on strong mutual trust, understanding and convergence of views on various regional and global issues,” he said.
Modi said the line of credit was for “facilitating mutual defence cooperation” and the ties between the two countries would “contribute to stability, security and prosperity in this region”. At an official luncheon, he said, “as partners, we must also take advantage of our synergies to face emerging regional challenges and exploit new opportunities.”
A space agreement takes forward a decision that allows India to set up a satellite tracking and imaging centre in southern Vietnam that will give Hanoi and Delhi an eye over the entire region including China and the South China Sea. While such centres have environmental, agricultural and weather functions, they serve a dual security purpose.
After meeting with Vietnam counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the two prime ministers expressed satisfaction at the significant progress made in defence cooperation, including exchange of high level visits, annual high-level dialogue, service-to-service cooperation, naval ship visits, extensive training and capacity building, defence equipment procurement and related transfer of technology, and cooperation at regional fora such as Asean Defence Minister Meet-Plus.
Both sides agreed to effectively implement the Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Relations of May 2015. Modi reaffirmed India’s significant interest in promoting defence industry cooperation between the two sides and committed to provide the new line of credit for Vietnam in this area.
Both sides welcomed the signing of the contract for Offshore High-speed Patrol Boats between Larsen & Toubro and Vietnam Border Guards utilizing the $100 million Line of Credit for defence procurement extended by India to Vietnam. Modi announced a grant of US$ 5 million for the construction of an Army Software Park at the Telecommunications University in Nha Trang.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cyber Security between Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India and the transfer of equipment to the Indian-funded Indira Gandhi High-Tech Crime Laboratory.
They agreed to an early conclusion of the MoU for cooperation between the National Security Council Secretariat of India and the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam, emphasised the need to establish the Deputy Ministerial level dialogue and to enhance cooperation on traditional and non-traditional security matters, cyber security, counter-terrorism, transnational crimes, disaster management and response, and undertaking training and capacity building programmes.