India, Vietnam expected to ink pacts to expand ties at virtual summit on Dec 21


New Delhi: India and Vietnam are likely to seal a number of agreements and make certain announcements to further expand overall ties including in areas of defence, energy and healthcare at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Monday, official sources said.

In the summit, the two sides are also likely to issue a joint vision for future development of 'India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership' with an aim to chart a new course of enhanced cooperation in a range of areas, they said.

India and Vietnam upgraded their relationship to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016 and the defence cooperation has been one of the most significant pillars of the fast expanding bilateral ties.

The sources said implementation of India's defence Line of Credit for high speed guard boats for Vietnam is likely to be further taken forward in the summit.

Both the countries have stakes in the Indo-Pacific and they are expected to explore potential cooperation to expand cooperation in the region based on respective vision for the region by India as well as the ASEAN.

At the East Asia Summit in Bangkok last year, Prime Minister Modi proposed setting up of the Indo-Pacific Ocean's Initiative (IPOI) to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain.

The 10-nation ASEAN has reflected its vision for the region in a document titled 'ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)'.

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.

China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN member countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counter claims.

"The two leaders will exchange views on wide-ranging bilateral, regional and global issues and provide guidance for the future development of India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership," said a source.

"They are also likely to issue a Joint Vision for this," the source said.

In addition, a number of agreements/announcements are likely, covering areas such as defence, energy, development partnership and healthcare, it said.

The sources said the two leaders will also take stock of the regional and global landscape and exchange views on their respective strategies to deal with the coronavirus pandemic as well as the post-pandemic economic revival.

In this context, the existing economic and trade linkages between the two countries provide a useful platform to explore new and resilient supply chains, they said.

Referring to the long-standing tradition of standing by each other during difficulties, showing sensitivity to each other's concerns and aspirations, the sources said the summit will reinforce these friendly sentiments and chart a new course for future development of the ties.

In the summit, the two sides are also likely to explore new opportunities in renewable energy cooperation, they said.

Both prime ministers had a telephone conversation on April 13 to discuss the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held an online meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart on November 27. (PTI)