Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said he is confident that the India-Vietnam relations will grow from strength to strength and their strategic partnership will be deepened and expanded rapidly in the coming years.

The website of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on September 18 quoted Mukherjee as saying so in his interaction with the media on his visit to Vietnam from September 14-17.

President Mukherjee said the Vietnamese government committed to taking the relationship to new heights, adding that the two sides concluded seven agreements/memoranda of understanding and released a Joint Communique, which will provide the institutional framework for mutually beneficial exchanges.

He said he is convinced that his visit will provide fresh impetus and momentum to the two countries’ close friendship and strategic partnership, which is based on civilisational contacts, modern day solidarity and great potential for the future.

The foundation of bilateral relations, laid by the exchanges between the Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, Prime Minister Pt. Nehru and President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, has been consolidated by successive generations of leadership on both sides.

The countries’ strategic partnership, established in 2007, is marked by a high degree of trust. Today, security and defence cooperation between the two countries is robust and growing with India helping Vietnam in training and capacity building, and provision of Line of Credit of 100 million USD for purchase of some critical equipment, Mukherjee noted.

Political relations between India and Vietnam have always been strong and ‘cloudless’, he said, the time has come however for them to focus with renewed energy and fresh determination on strengthening economic engagement, connectivity and people-to-people exchanges, particularly amongst the youth.

The Indian leader said Vietnam’s economic growth and development over the last two decades has been impressive, and there is great scope to expand and diversify their trade exchanges.

Both sides have set a new target of 15 billion USD worth of trade by 2020. The Vietnamese side has promised that they will provide a favourable environment for further investments from India.

The countries expect business partnerships and joint ventures to grow in the area of infrastructure, agro-processing, textiles, agro-chemicals, manufacturing, hydrocarbons, energy and many others, he added.

To improve connectivity, India’s Jet Airways will commence direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City from Mumbai from November 5, 2014, and Vietnam Airlines will fly to India in early 2015. This will open up the potential for greater flows of people-to-people contacts for businesses, for students and for tourists.

President Mukherjee added that India and Vietnam, as two of the fastest growing economies of Asia, will provide stability and growth to this region and the world.-VNA