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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrives in Vietnam on three-day visit

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrives in Vietnam on three-day visit

Hanoi (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday arrived here in Vietnam on a three-day visit, in reflection of the growing congruence in maritime security cooperation with the key Southeast Asian country amid China's increasing muscle-flexing in the region.

Singh was welcomed at the airport by India's Ambassador to Vietnam Pranay Verma and senior officers of Vietnam's Ministry of National Defence.

Hon'ble RM, Shri Rajnath Singh arrived at Hanoi on an official visit to Vietnam from 8-10 June 2022. He was welcomed at the airport by Amb. Pranay Verma and senior officers of Vietnam's Ministry of National Defence, the Embassy of India said on Twitter.

In New Delhi, 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.

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, it said.

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 strategic South China Sea region.

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's aggressive military manoeuvring in the region.

China also claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.

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.

"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'," the ministry said in a statement.

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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