President Truong Tan Sang and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee agreed to intensify the Vietnamese-Indian strategic partnership with a focus on politics, defence, security, economics, science-technology, oil and gas, culture, people-to-people exchanges, and regional and multilateral cooperation.

During their talks in Hanoi on September 15, President Sang said the visit was of paramount importance for the thriving friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

He expressed his gratitude for India’s support during Vietnam’s struggle for independence and ongoing national development process, while holding out hope that their strategic partnership would continue to develop in the future.

The Vietnamese leader also valued India’s wide-ranging accomplishments, which he believed would prosper even more and help raise the South Asian country’s status in the global arena.

For his part, President Mukherjee acknowledged the growth in the countries’ friendship, particularly since the establishment of the strategic partnership in 2007.

He stressed that Vietnam was an important pillar in India’s Look East policy and the development of India-ASEAN relations, and expressed his wish for their strategic partnership to be strengthened further.

At the talks, both sides agreed to promote bilateral cooperation mechanisms, particularly the inter-governmental committee, political consultations and strategic dialogues between the two countries.

They said they would increase the exchange of delegations at all levels, hold a meeting of the inter-governmental committee in 2015 in Vietnam, and implement agreements effectively to deepen bilateral cooperation.

The presidents expressed their appreciation of the countries’ security-defence collaboration, which is critical to the strategic partnership, and noted that the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the line of credit of 100 million USD extended by India to Vietnam would open new avenues for cooperation.

They also highlighted the rapid growth in bilateral trade which is expected to hit 15 billion USD by 2020.

The leaders spoke highly of the two countries’ cultural and people-to-people connections and applauded the coordination between India’s Jet Airways and Vietnam Airlines to open an India-Vietnam direct flight route scheduled to operate from this November onwards.

They agreed to further their affiliation in other spheres, such as agriculture, fishing, information technology, and education-training.

During the event, Presidents Sang and Mukherjee also exchanged their views on issues of mutual interest.

They valued their bilateral cooperation and agreed to expand their ties at regional and international forums, including ASEAN-Indian cooperation, the East Asia Summit (EAS), Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC), the Non-Aligned Movement, South-South cooperation, and the United Nations Organisation.

They reaffirmed mutual support for their respective candidatures for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Vietnam for the term 2020-2021 and India for the term 2021-2022.

Both sides also stressed the need for an urgent reform of the UN and the expansion of permanent and non-permanent UNSC membership. India expressed its gratitude for Vietnam’s consistent support for India’s candidature for permanent membership in a reformed and expanded UNSC.

The two leaders also agreed on the importance of security, safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea. They called upon all parties to resolve disputes peacefully in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and work towards the adoption of a Code of Conduct in these waters.

Following the talks, the presidents witnessed the signing of a number of agreements, including an agreement between the two governments on cooperation and mutual assistance on customs matters, a dollar credit line agreement between the Vietnamese Government and EXIM Bank of India, and an MoU on pangasius farming in India.

The same day, Presidents Sang and Pranab Mukherjee attended the opening ceremony of a centre for Indian studies under the Vietnam National Academy of Politics and Public Administration in Hanoi.

President Mukherjee described the centre as a symbol of the two countries’ people-to-people diplomacy and expressed his hope for further links between their research bodies and universities.-VNA