Vietnam will actively contribute to boosting the ASEAN – India partnership in the coming years as it is strategically important to peace, stability and development in the region.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the statement at the plenary session of the Commemorative Summit marking the 20 th anniversary of ASEAN-India dialogue relations, held in New Delhi on December 20.

Dung expressed his backing of the summit’s Declaration of Vision, as well as the upgrading of ASEAN – India ties to the strategic partnership level.

He said ASEAN and India need to build on achievements over the past 20 years and further promote the bilateral dialogue and cooperative ties in a more practical and effective manner.

Accordingly, the two sides need to mobilize more resources to implement agreements and cooperation programmes, especially the 2010 – 2015 Action Plan to implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN – India Partnership for peace, progress and shared prosperity.

Hailing efforts and achievements in implementing the Agreement on Trade in Goods within the framework of the ASEAN – India Free Trade Area, Dung added that two-way trade between the two sides hit nearly 75 billion USD last year, surpassing the goal of 70 billion USD set for 2012. India is now the sixth largest trade partner of ASEAN.

PM Dung welcomed the conclusion of ASEAN and India negotiations on agreements on trade, services and investment, paving the way to establish a comprehensive ASEAN – India Free Trade Area and creating favourable conditions for the two sides and partners to negotiate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

While highly valuing India ’s practical and meaningful assistance to ASEAN during the Community building and promotion of connectivity and regional linkages, Dung asked the country to continue assisting the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, as well as engage in joint projects on developing the Greater Sub-Mekong region.

Amid traditional and non-traditional security challenges facing the region, ASEAN and India need to prioritise political and security cooperation through regional frameworks and mechanisms, he said, adding that he hopes India will continue working closely with ASEAN and backing the bloc’s central role, while actively participating in current regional cooperation mechanisms.

The Vietnamese Government leader asked India to back ASEAN and China in fully and effectively implementing the Joint Statement marking the 10 th anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and support the ASEAN in implementing its Six-Point Principle on the East Sea to ensure the settlement of disputes by peaceful measures in line with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Dung expressed his belief that with the great determination and efforts demonstrated by the two sides, the ASEAN – India strategic partnership will grow strongly in a more practical manner in the years to come.-VNA