Vietnam president pledges closer ties with India; direct flights planned

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Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to boost bilateral cooperation in various areas during their meeting in New Delhi Wednesday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

In a joint statement, the two countries agreed to make efforts to the two-way trade value to US$7 billion by 2015. It was $2.75 billion in 2010, according to figures from the Vietnamese trade ministry.

Both countries agreed to celebrate 2012 as the "Vietnam- India Friendship Year".

They agreed to further promote visits by high-ranking officials, and to expand their comprehensive strategic partnership in politics, defense, security, economics, culture and human resources training.

India promised to extend new lines of credit to Vietnam with favorable terms and conditions for projects in infrastructure, oil and gas, power generation and transmission. In return, President Sang said Vietnam will create favorable conditions for Indian enterprises to do business in Vietnam.

The two leaders said the two countries will further promote co-operation and co-ordination at the ASEAN-India forum, the Ganga-Mekong forum, the East Asia Summit, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

They emphasized the importance of maintaining peace, stability and ensuring maritime safety, security and freedom in the East Sea.

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They also agreed that disputes in the East Sea needed to be settled through peaceful negotiations based on international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

After the meeting, Sang and Singh witnessed the signing of six agreements.

Vietnam-India direct flights planned

National carrier Vietnam Airlines signed an MoU on strategic cooperation with India's private airline Jet Airways.

The agreement was signed in the presence of President Sang and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) President Muthuraman, as well as members of the Vietnamese delegation and captains of the Indian industry.

Under the agreement, the two airlines will cooperate in commercial, services, technical and training areas to pave the way for the opening of a direct route between Vietnam and India in the near future.

Naresh Goyal, Chairman of Jet Airways said: "This agreement with Vietnam Airlines is an integral part of our strategy for increased international growth and providing seamless service for travelers between India and Vietnam.

"Today's milestone is a momentous occasion in our history and we look forward to the future of cooperation and collaboration with Vietnam Airlines, bringing greater benefits to our distinguished passengers."

Pham Ngoc Minh, President and CEO of Vietnam Airlines, said: "The signing of this MOU agreement with Jet Airways - India's largest private airline today is one step to realize the two countries strategic partner commitment.

"We believe that the direct flights between India and Vietnam shall bring benefits to our customers, creating all favorable conditions to bring the two countries' traditional and multi-faceted relationship to a more practical and efficient level."

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