Vietnam, India seek to cement defense ties

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Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh in a file photo. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh in a file photo. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency

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Vietnam's Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh will visit India later this week for strategic talks to cement bilateral military ties, the Times of India reported. 
The newspaper quotes government sources as saying Minister Thanh will chair a defense dialogue along with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. 
It will be Vietnam's first strategic defense dialogue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which is seeking to expand military cooperation with the Southeast Asian country, according to the Times of India. 
Until now, similar dialogues have been chaired by defense secretaries from India and deputy defense ministers from Vietnam. The upcoming dialogue will be the first ministerial-level one. 
Last year, India offered a US$100 million concessional line of credit (LoC) for Vietnam to acquire new naval vessels from India. 
During PM Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to India in October last year, his Indian counterpart Modi said that the two countries would move quickly to implement the LoC. 
The two PMs said in a joint statement after their meeing that "freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea should not be impeded and called the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid threats or use of force". 
Despite warnings from China, Indian oil and gas group ONGC Videsh and PetroVietnam signed an agreement last year for exploration of new oil and gas projects in Vietnam. 
India’s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) is finalizing the design of a series of 140-ton fast patrol boats for the Vietnam Navy. This is the first time an Indian shipyard has been commissioned to design and build a warship to specifications formulated by a buyer country.

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