Ho Chi Minh City held a ceremony on Jan. 5 to mark the 40th anniversary of Vietnam-India diplomatic ties (Jan. 1) and five years of establishment of strategic partnership between the two countries (July 6).

Attending the ceremony were Minister of State for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs E. Ahamed, Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Ranjit Rae and Ho Chi Minh City leaders.

Speaking at the event, both Ahamed and President of the Vietnam-Indian Friendship Association of Ho Chi Minh City Huynh Thanh Lap agreed that the traditional friendship between Vietnam and India, which was initiated by President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, has become a valuable asset of the two peoples.

Over the past 40 years, the Vietnam-India friendship and multi-faceted cooperation have developed fruitfully in all fields, ranging from politics, defence, security, investment, trade to culture, tourism and human resource development.

Two-way trade has increased by 14 folds over the past 10 years and is expected to surpass 3.5 billion USD in 2012.

Ahamed said that Vietnam has been always a special and sincere friend of India, in both bilateral ties and at regional forums, adding that Vietnam holds a strategic position in India’s “Look East” policy.

Lap expressed his belief that on the basis of mutual trust and traditional friendship, and with the determination of the two countries’ high-ranking leaders and joint efforts by the two peoples, the Vietnam-India strategic partnership in general and the cooperation between HCM City and Indian localities in particular will further flourish in the future.

On the same day, Ahamed was received by Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Le Hoang Quan, who expressed wish that the bilateral ties between India and Vietnam, especially HCM City, will be further strengthened with the planned opening of a direct air route from HCM City and Bombay city of India./.