India and Vietnam on Tuesday signed an MoU on mutual logistics support, the first such major agreement Hanoi has inked with any country towards simplifying procedures for mutually-beneficial logistic support.
“In these times of increasing cooperative engagements between the defence forces of the two countries, this is a major step towards simplifying procedures for mutually beneficial logistic support and is the first such major agreement which Vietnam has signed with any country,” reads the statement issued by India’s Ministry of Defence soon after signing the MoU.
India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is currently on a three-day visit from June 8 to Vietnam, held wide-ranging discussions with General Phan Van Giang on “effective and practical initiatives” to further bolster defence engagements.
“Wide-ranging discussions on effective and practical initiatives to further expand bilateral defence engagements and regional and global issues were held between the two sides,” the statement said.
The two defence ministers also signed the Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030′, which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation, at a time when China is flexing its muscles in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Both ministers also agreed on the early finalisation of the USD 500-million Defence Line of Credit extended to Vietnam, the statement added.
The implementation of the projects will add substantially to Vietnam’s defence capabilities and further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Make in India, Make for the World’, according to the statement.
India and Vietnam have shared a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership.
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.
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.
(With PTI inputs)