New Delhi [India], June 15 (ANI): India and Vietnam signed a "Joint Vision" document to "significantly enhance the scope and scale" of bilateral ties by 2030 during the recent Vietnam visit of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Vietnam.
The two countries have many things in common. Both of them are listed among the fastest-growing economies of Asia and both aim at enhancing peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through multi-faceted cooperation.
India and Vietnam have a broad convergence of interest as the emerging economies and important countries with respect to creating alternative supply chains in Asia after global disillusionment with the China-centric supply chain during the Covid pandemic.
Besides, the two countries are equally concerned about the aggressive and expansionist policies of China in the Indo-Pacific region. The two countries also share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership.
Bilateral defence engagements have expanded over a period of time to include wide-ranging contacts between the two countries, including Defense Policy Dialogue, military-to-military exchange, high-level visits, capacity building and training programmes.
The two countries have also cooperated in UN peacekeeping, ship visits and bilateral exercises. The Indian Defence Minister, during his visit, had a wide-ranging discussion with his Vietnamese counterpart, General Phan Van Giang, at Hanoi to jointly pursue effective and practical initiatives to further expand bilateral engagements.
The two countries signed an MoU on mutual logistics support, the first of its kind that Vietnam has signed with any country. India and Vietnam also agreed to the early finalization of the USD 500 million defence line of credit to Vietnam by India.
The Indo-Vietnam Cooperation assumes significance in view of the US and several world powers' efforts to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific region, especially at a time when China has shown scant respect for international laws to resolve the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
China claims a major chunk of the disputed China Sea despite cross-claims by other countries in the neighbourhood including Taiwan, The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. One of the main concerns of India in the region is that it has exploration projects in the Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea. The two countries have boosted their maritime security cooperation in the last few years to protect common interests.
The relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of "Strategic Partnership" in 2007 when Vietnam's then Prime Minister Nguyan Jan Dung visited India. The relations were further upgraded to "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership" in 2016, as Vietnam serves as an important partner in India's "Act East" Policy and Indo-Pacific vision.
The two countries had signed a cultural agreement in 1976 and since then, it has led to the creation of many channels of cultural cooperation. A recent development in this regard is the establishment of the Swami Vivekananda Indian Cultural Centre in Hanoi in 2016.
Earlier, the Institute of Indian and South-West Asian Studies under the aegis of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences was inaugurated in Hanoi in 2012.
Around 1,69,000 Indians visited Vietnam and 31,000 Vietnamese visited India before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnam is the 15th largest trade partner of India and India is its 10th largest partner with bilateral trade standing at USD 11.12 billion in 2020-21. There is an upswing in India-Vietnam relations and it is rising up to new heights. (ANI)