Vietnam needs closer strategic partnership with India: defense official

By Anh Son, Thanh Nien News

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Drastic changes in regional security have created a need for closer strategic partnership between Vietnam and India, Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh told the Indian media last week.
Interview by New Dehli Television (NDTV), Senior Lieutenant General Vinh did not elaborate on the “drastic changes” but underlined that Vietnam places "great trust" in India on issues of national defense.
General Vinh was leading a Vietnamese delegation to attend the Vietnam-India Defense Dialogue in New Dehli from Jan. 14-16. 
He said Vietnam is yet to decide on the number of vessels to be bought from India under a US$100-million line of credit (LoC) for defense procurement extended by India recently. He said, however, it would not be just four as was reported by Indian media, according to NDTV.
The vessels would be used to patrol Vietnam’s waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, according to General Vinh.
Vietnam has also sought India's help in training its Air Force pilots in flying Sukhoi fighters, but Vinh said talks are still ongoing and no agreement has been reached.

Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh (R) shakes hands with General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of the Indian Army Staff, in New Dehli on Jan. 16.
India is already training the Vietnam Navy personnel in operating the Russian-origin Kilo-class submarine and in other areas, according to NDTV.
General Vinh also said that India should not worry about India-Vietnam joint oil exploration projects in the South China Sea, because the projects are in Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone and Vietnam has the right and responsibility to protect its legitimate waters.
“We support India's Look East policy and Indian presence in the region is peaceful and cooperative," he said.

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