India, Vietnam ink military logistics support pact to expand defence ties

NEW DELHI, 8 Jun: India and Vietnam on Wednesday inked a vision document to further broad-base the “scope and scale” of defence ties by 2030 and sealed a mutual logistics support pact to allow militaries of the two sides to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
The signing of the two documents after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s “fruitful” talks with his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Giang in Hanoi, is seen as a major upswing in India-Vietnam strategic ties amid common concerns over China’s increasing muscle-flexing in the South China Sea.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mutual logistics support is the first such major agreement that Vietnam has signed with any country. The pact will allow the militaries of the two sides to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
“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,” the defence ministry said.
It further said that India and Vietnam continue to have the “most trustworthy relations in contemporary times with broader convergence of interests and common concerns.”
Singh arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday on a three-day visit.
“Had an excellent meeting with General Phan Van Giang, the Defence Minister of Vietnam. We renewed interactions on expanding bilateral cooperation. Our close Defence and Security cooperation is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Singh tweeted.
The joint vision document provides for significant expansion of defence ties in diverse areas by 2030, officials said.
“We had wide-ranging discussions on effective and practical initiatives to further expand bilateral defence engagements and regional and global issues,” Singh said.
“After our fruitful deliberations, we signed the ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’, which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of our defence cooperation,” he added.
The signing of the vision document to expand bilateral defence and security ties came amid growing congruence between the two countries in the maritime security domain amid China’s increasing muscle-flexing in the region.
Singh is also scheduled to call on Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
Singh and Gen Giang also agreed for the early finalisation of the USD 500 million defence Line of Credit (LoC) extended to Vietnam by India.
The defence ministry, in a statement, said the implementation of the projects under the LoC will add substantially to Vietnam’s defence capabilities and further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.
Singh also announced gifting of two simulators and monetary grants towards setting up a language and IT laboratory at the Air Force Officers Training School for capacity building of the Vietnamese armed forces.
The defence minister began his visit by paying respects to late President Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum in Hanoi.
He also visited Tran Quoc Pagoda, a revered Buddhist temple which reaffirmed the age-old civilisational and people-to-people linkages between the two countries.
Vietnam, an important country of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region.
India has oil exploration projects in the Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea. India and Vietnam have been boosting their maritime security cooperation in the last few years to protect common interests.
The defence ministry described Vietnam as an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision, adding both countries share a rich history of civilisational and cultural linkages spanning over 2,000 years.
It said bilateral defence engagements have expanded over a period of time to include wide-ranging contacts between the two countries, including through defence policy dialogues, military-to-military exchanges, high-level visits, capacity building and training programmes and cooperation in the UN peacekeeping and bilateral exercises.
Relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of ‘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, 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. (PTI)