The upcoming visit to Vietnam by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on August 25-26, and soon to be followed by a visit by President Pranab Mukherjee, is a confirmation of India’s policy towards Vietnam, according to Vietnamese Ambassador to India Nguyen Thanh Tan.

In an interview granted to the India Writes Network, the ambassador noted that the two visits are taking place in the context of the strategic partnership between the two countries, adding that Vietnamese leaders are looking forward to the president’s visit, during which they hope to discuss issues relating to bilateral relations and exchange views on regional situations as well international issues.

Ambassador Tan underlined the growing cooperation in all fields between Vietnam and India. In particular, bilateral trade and commerce ties have been in a good shape. The trade volume increased rapidly from 3.4 billion USD in 2010 to 6.2 billion USD last year. The two countries are set to reach 7 billion USD at the end of 2015, meeting the target set by their leaders. By the end of 2020, bilateral trade may reach 15 billion USD, he said.

Capacity building and development cooperation are also important facets of India-Vietnam partnership, he said, noting that India is a very good destination to send Vietnamese officials to study. The ambassador said as India offers Vietnam 150 scholarships a year, for the past few years Vietnam has used almost all these scholarship to send its students and officials to study in India, and will continue to move in this direction.

At the same time, defence cooperation between India and Vietnam has been strengthened and developed, according to the ambassador. Starting with posting the defence attaché in each country’s embassy, the two countries then signed an MOU on defence cooperation. They have now set up the Strategic Dialogue at the level of vice-minister of defence.

Discussing security cooperation between the two countries, Ambassador Tan affirmed that Vietnam has always emphasised India’s role in the region.

“We need Indian balance in the region… We also see Indian role in ARF,“ the ambassador said, adding that India and Vietnam have the same position on issues in the region.

He noted that a week ago the Indian minister of external affairs reconfirmed India’s position to the region, that India supports a peaceful solution to all the disputes in the area. India also supports the safety of the sea lanes of communication, and the resolution of issues in accordance to international law, especially the 1982 Law of the Sea. India has rejected the use of force to solve problems in the region.

“I think that position is very important, it is the same position as that of Vietnam. India and Vietnam want peace, prosperity, stability and development to the region,” the ambassador said.

He affirmed that Vietnam will continue to support India’s Look East policy and is a loyal and all-weather friend of India.-VNA