Sushma Swaraj to visit Vietnam next week

New Delhi, Aug 22: Eyeing a more robust relationship with strategically-important Vietnam, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit that country next week during which cooperation in textile, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and defence would be in focus.

The visit, August 24-26, comes just days after Vietnam renewed India's lease of two oil blocks in South China Sea for another year, a move that could rile China.

During her visit, Swaraj will also chair a meeting of the heads of Indian Missions in the region besides inaugurating the 3rd Round-table of the Asean-India Network of Think Tanks.

"India and Vietnam enjoy excellent political relations. We expect that the External Affairs Minister's visit to Vietnam will pave the way for high-level exchange of visits between India and Vietnam during the course of the year," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters here. India and Vietnam have a tradition of exchanging high- level visits.

The visit comes after Vietnam renewed India's lease of two oil blocks in SC Sea

The last high level visit from Vietnam was by the Secretary General of Vietnamese Communist party last November. Both the countries also have a fairly robust economic ties and the bilateral trade stands at USD 8 billion, of which Indian exports to the country is about USD 5.4 billion, "We see prospects in the current situation in terms of enhancing our ties including in areas such as textile, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products," Akbaruddin said.

Asked if the issue of defence cooperation, which Vietnam is keen for, will be discussed, he said "in the world of diplomacy, some things are better left unsaid and defence cooperation is one of those".


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