Visit of the Indian Minister of Defense to Vietnam: lasting bilateral relations

Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh’s visit to Vietnam from 8e june to 10e June came soon after the visit of Lok Sabha President Sri Om Birla with a large delegation from April 19-21 at the invitation of National Assembly Speaker Vuong Dinh Hue. Prior to Sri Birla’s visit, Prime Minister Modi had spoken to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong. In December 2021, Foreign Minister Jaishankar visited Vietnam on the occasion of the 5e anniversary of India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This year, India and Vietnam are celebrating 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Over the past 50 years, India and Vietnam have grown considerably closer. The relationship was upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016. In the same year, the Framework of Cooperation Agreement was signed between the National Assembly of Vietnam and the Indian Lok Sabha. Since then, our relationship has grown stronger and stronger. The most important aspect is that not only are relations free from irritation, but on most regional and international issues there is a common point of view. Both cooperated in the UNSC last year as non-permanent members on several issues when the world faced the Covid-related issues.

Sri Birla’s visit was the first high-level interaction to celebrate the 50e anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. During the visit, his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr. Hue, defined an action plan for further cooperation between the representatives of the citizens of the two countries. Its action plan had three dimensions. Firstly, he called for a deepening of relations between the two legislative bodies keeping in mind the global strategic partnership. Second, it was necessary for both sides to better understand the socio-economic development policies and foreign affairs of each country. Third, to have a system to compare notes on international and global issues of common interest and seek solutions to global challenges to contribute to peace, security, stability and development in the region and in the world.

The visit of Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh was of great importance in the development of relations between the two countries. Three important decisions were made. First, India and Vietnam signed a Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defense Partnership 2030, “which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defense cooperation.” Secondly, the Indian and Vietnamese defense ministers also agreed on the speedy finalization of the $500 million defense line of credit granted to Vietnam and the “implementation of projects that will significantly add to Vietnam’s defense capabilities. and will also push the government’s vision of “do in India, do for the world”. Third, India and Vietnam have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Logistics Support. The ministry statement said: “In these times of increasing cooperative commitments between the defense forces of the two countries, this is a major step towards streamlining mutually beneficial logistics support procedures and is the first major agreement of this type that Vietnam has signed with any country.”

Singh also announced that India will provide two simulators and a monetary grant for setting up a language and computer lab at the Air Force Officer Training School for capacity building. capabilities of the Vietnamese Armed Forces. India has made special efforts to strengthen Vietnam’s defense capabilities.

Singh also visited Vietnam’s military training facilities and handed over twelve high-speed patrol boats to the ASEAN nation’s naval fleet which was built with a $100 million line of credit and technical assistance from India. , and is expected to be deployed along the South China Sea soon. coast.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh hailed the cooperation between defense ministries and armies of Vietnam and India during the visit of Indian Defense Minister. He said the two sides have made unremitting efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of trust, sincerity and responsibility and in a practical, efficient and proper manner by contributing to building strong armies of nations. and the protection of their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He also appreciated India’s role in international and regional forums, as well as the strong coordination and shared support between the two countries, especially at the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. He also hoped that India, as a major power in the region, will take concrete initiatives and actions to promote ASEAN’s solidarity and centrality in the regional security architecture, as well as the implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Sri Singh said that India supports the practical and effective realization of UNCLOS by helping to create an environment of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

Both countries face the problems of Chinese aggression. As China tries to unilaterally change the land boundary between India and China, Vietnam faces Chinese encroachment activities in its EEZ. In the past, Vietnamese boats have been sunk in addition to hampering its drilling operations. The PCA decision was rejected by China and there is virtually no progress on the code of conduct. In addition, reports indicate that China is in the process of establishing an additional naval facility in Cambodia, which will further strengthen Chinese enforcement capabilities.

For India, the South China Sea remains important as its 55% of trade passes through this region. India’s Act East policy is also closely linked to Vietnam and ASEAN. India also considers the South China Sea to be central to the free, open and inclusive Indio-Pacific. Its action plan for achieving this goal of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) is similar to the ASEAN Outlook for Indo-Pacific (AOIP). Both have joined the Indo-Pacific economic framework with a common goal of developing the region. Both countries support the implementation of UNCLOS and the PCA decision.

The Department of Defense emphasizes that the two countries continue to enjoy the most trustworthy relationship in contemporary times with a greater convergence of common interests and concerns and that bilateral defense engagements have spanned a period of time to include extensive contacts between the two countries, including Defense Policy Dialogues, Military-to-Military Exchanges, High Level Visits, Capacity Building and Training Programs, Peacekeeping Cooperation United Nations, ship visits and bilateral exercises. These suggest that in the coming period, there will be closer coordination between the two countries to deal with disruptive activities caused by Chinese belligerence.

The opinions expressed above are those of the author.

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