Indian President visits Vietnam to boost ties

Thanh Nien News

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Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee (L) shakes hands with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang as they meet at the presidential palace in Hanoi on September 15, 2014. Photo credit: AFP Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee (L) shakes hands with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang as they meet at the presidential palace in Hanoi on September 15, 2014. Photo credit: AFP


Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Vietnam from September 14-17 has already resulted in some major cooperation agreements including an oil exploration deal in the East Sea.
East Sea is the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea.
During the meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang on Monday, the two leaders oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Vietnam Oil and Gas Company (PetroVietnam) and Indian ONGC Videsh Ltd.

"ONGC has been conducting oil and gas exploration and production in Vietnam for many years, and today's agreement will pave the way for us to extend our cooperation in other blocks offshore Vietnam," Do Van Hau, PetroVietnam's chief executive, was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying.

ONGC already has a stake in a gas-production block on the southern Vietnam coast, The Wall Street Journal report said. It is also drilling in offshore exploration Block 128 in the East Sea and relinquished adjacent block 127 in 2011 after it failed to find any oil or gas in the area, according to the report.

In 2011, the Chinese government warned ONGC that its exploration activities off the Vietnam coast were illegal and violated China's sovereignty, The Wall Street Journal report said.

But the company has continued its activities in Vietnam, it said. China claims sovereignty over most of the East Sea, where Block 127 and 128 are located.

Also on Monday, Naresh Goyal, chairman of India's Jet Airways, and Pham Ngoc Minh, CEO of Vietnam Airlines, signed documents on launching codeshare flights connecting the two countries.
The two countries also signed MoUs on cooperations in animal health, agriculture, youth cooperation and Vietnam’s investment in catfish farms in India.
Bilateral trade between Vietnam and India is expected to hit US$8 billion in 2014, an increase from $3.4 billion in 2010.
According to Vietnam Ambassador to India, Nguyen Thanh Tan, Vietnam and India aim to raise bilateral trade to $10 billion next year and $15 billion in 2020.
India has 68 investment projects in Vietnam worth about $1 billion--those include oil exploration, mineral exploitation and processing, sugar and agricultural chemical manufacturing, information technology and agricultural product processing.
Vietnam has three investment projects in India, valued at $23.6 million.
Prior to his visit, President Mukherjee maintained that the Vietnam was an important pillar in India's “Look-East” policy.
"Vietnam has been a strategic partner for India both within ASEAN and in the wider region," he was quoted by Vietnam News Agency as saying.
"We deeply appreciate Vietnam's support for India at all regional and international fora and look forward to further deepening this aspect of our cooperation."
Mukherjee last visited Vietnam in May 2011 for the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank
when he was the finance minister.
Last week, ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden visit to India, New Delhi sent out a strong message about its desire to play a greater role in regional security in South-East Asia, making public its plan to supply BrahMos cruise missiles to Vietnam.
Sources told Deccan Herald that the talks were in an advanced stage and Moscow had already informally given its nod to New Delhi for the sale.
New Delhi had to obtain Moscow’s nod as the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles are produced by a joint-venture of Defense Research and Development Organization and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia, the paper reported.

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