India always attaches importance to developing cooperative ties with ASEAN member countries, especially with Vietnam, an important partner in India’s Look East foreign policy.

Indian Lower House Chairwoman Meira Kumar made this statement at talks with Party General Secretary and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi on May 16.

Kumar spoke highly of the fine development of economic and trade ties between the two countries, that still hold potential to develop, adding that the two sides should create favourable conditions for business communities to increase mutual understanding and cooperation. Last year, two-way trade between the two countries reached 2.7 billion USD.

She said she hoped the two sides would speed up the establishment of training centres for foreign language skills, information technology and high-quality human resources, an Indian cultural centre in Vietnam and the India-Vietnam direct air route, which will promote bilateral trade, investment and tourism cooperation.

India would increase scholarships for Vietnamese students in India and work out specific cooperation programme with Vietnam in the field of culture, as this was an important factor to deepen the fine relationship between the two peoples, Kumar said.

General Secretary Trong said the two sides should concretise cooperation programmes in each field, actively carry out signed agreements, as well as increase information and experience sharing for the common development of the two countries.

He affirmed that the development of friendly and cooperative ties with India was one of the top priorities of Vietnam’s external affairs policy, adding that Vietnam would continue to support and work closely with India in regional and international forums.

Answering a correspondent’s queries on Indian policy on developing a strategic partnership with Vietnam after the talks, Chairwoman Meira Kumar said the Indian Lower House had different parties and all parties and people reached a consensus on further enhancing relations with Vietnam in all fields.

Later the day, State President Nguyen Minh Triet received Indian Lower House Chairwoman Meira Kumar, expressing his belief that her current visit to Vietnam was an important chance for both countries to discuss practical issues to boost friendship and cooperation.

Vietnam and India treasured long-lasting traditional relations, President Triet said, stressing that as India’s friend, Vietnam wished to enhance and expand friendship and bilateral cooperation in many areas, matching the two countries’ current political ties.

Vietnam wanted India to make more contributions to peace, development and prosperity in the region and the world, he added.

Indian Lower House Chairwoman Meira Kumar said the government and political parties, ministries and agencies of India always had consensus on the viewpoint of strengthening relations with Vietnam.

India highly valued Vietnam’s important role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia, she said.

She expressed her admiration at Vietnam’s achievements in socio-economic development, poverty reduction and universal education.

The Indian speaker thanked Vietnam for its support for India’s bids to become a permanent member of the expanded United Nations Security Council, an observer of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, and its participation in the ASEAN Defence Minsiters’ Meeting Plus last year.

She affirmed her wish that India and Vietnam would jointly seek measures to promote and expand friendship and cooperation and work closely at international forums, for a world of peace and development.

While receiving the Indian Lower House Chairwoman on the same day, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said her Vietnam visit would be an important milestone in the development of both countries’ diplomatic ties.

The two countries should further boost trade and investment cooperation and soon open a direct air route to facilitate bilateral cooperation, PM Dung said.

He also expressed his hope that the Indian government would increase scholarships for Vietnamese students to study in India and maintain provision of official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam in committed areas.

According to Chairwoman Kumar, since the two countries lifted their relations to strategic partnership level, bilateral cooperation has been boosted in science and technology, culture, society, diplomacy, security and defence as well as in international forums.

She said she expected the two countries would make efforts to build cooperation orientation to develop bilateral ties for the benefit of each side./.