Vietnam looking forward to Narendra Modi's visit

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New Delhi, Aug 10 Vietnam was looking forward to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit expected to take place later this year, Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh said on Wednesday.

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"Preparations are going on for Prime Minister Modi's visit to Vietnam," Thanh said during an interaction with the media here.

"We expect that his visit will open a new page in our diplomatic relationship," he said

This will be the first prime ministerial visit from India to the Southeast Asian nation in 15 years after the visit of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001.

Thanh said that ties between India and Vietnam date back to 1,000 years when people from Odisha went to that southeast Asian nation and settled there.

He said that diplomatic relations between the two countries, established in 1972, have been upgraded to the strategic partnership level.

"Our diplomatic relationship is based on five pillars," he said.

These five pillars are: political cooperation; economic engagement; energy cooperation; defence and security cooperation; and development, culture, tourism and civil society linkages.

"The defence dialogue has also been upgraded to ministerial level," Thanh said.

He stated that negotiations were going on for Vietnam to buy the supersonic BrahMos missile from India.

"Vietnam and India recently (August 2) held the foreign office consultations and strategic dialogue," he stated.

He said that 2017 will mark the 45th year of Indo-Vietnamese diplomatic ties and 10th year of strategic partnership.

The Ambassador said that Indian investments in Vietnam have reached $550 million.

"Investments from India in Vietnam started in 1988 with the entry of ONGC," he said.

ONGC Videsh is engaged in exploration of oil and gas in three blocks in Vietnam.

Thanh said that the Indian investment figure might rise sharply when the Tata group sets up a thermal power plant in south Vietnam.

As for people-to-people ties, he said that more and more Vietnamese students were coming to India to study.

"These students are not only coming on Indian government scholarships but also on their own finances," he said.

The Ambassador said that there was a lot of potential in cooperation between the two countries in the film industry.

"We want to bring and show our films in India and welcome Indian producers to shoot in Vietnam," he said.

As for India-Vietnam cooperation in the internal arena, he said that India has become the fastest growing economy and would play an increasingly important role in regional and international issues.

"Vietnam supports India on international issues," Thanh said.

He said negotiations were going on with India on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) - Brunei, Camboadia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - and the six countries with which Asean has existing FTAs - Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Thanh also said that his country wanted India to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec)), a forum of for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Vietnam will host the year-long Apec meetings in 2017 that will culminate in the Apec Economic Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang.

IANS

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