Hanoi, Sep 2: Underlining that Vietnam is a "very important pillar" in India's Act East Policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his visit to the country, the first by an Indian premier in 15 years, was intended to boost the strategic ties and speed up bilateral engagements in key areas like defence, security and trade.
"Vietnamese Prime Minister (Nguyen Xuan) Phuc and I would also be discussing regional cooperation and stability and our multilateral cooperation," Modi told state-run Voice of Vietnam Radio network ahead of his two-day visit during which he will hold extensive talks with Vietnam's top leadership.
"The thrust of our multifaceted relationship is to work towards stability, maintenance of peace, economic growth and prosperity in our countries, Asia and beyond," he added.
Modi emphasised that India's Act East Policy is aimed at forging partnerships with its eastern neighbours to encompass security, strategic, political, counter-terrorism, and defence collaboration in addition to economic ties.
"It was crystallised to underscore the importance of East Asian neighbours of India and to make them a priority in our foreign policy engagement," he told the radio, adding Vietnam was an integral member of ASEAN and is a "very important pillar in our Act East Policy".
"My visit to Vietnam is a reinforcement of our friendship, solidarity and comprehensive cooperation. The visit is intended to further boost our bilateral and multilateral engagement and cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, commerce, culture, human resource development, science and technology, space research, defence and security," he told the broadcaster.
Vietnam is the ASEAN Coordinator for India for 2015-18 and the two countries have expressed their strong commitment in strengthening partnership within the India-ASEAN and Mekong-Ganga Cooperation frameworks.
Underlining that trade was a vital aspect in bilateral ties, Modi noted the current trade stood at USD 7.83 billion, and pledged the two sides were committed to meet the target of USD 15 billion by 2020.
"We would be deliberating on the thrust areas and new sectors for enhancing trade and the impetus required for enhanced investments.
India has expressed keenness on increasing investments in Vietnam.
Indian investments in Vietnam are currently at about USD 1.1 billion, and would be significantly enhanced upon implementation of large infrastructure projects such as Tata Power's Long Phu - II 1320 MW thermal power project with an estimated cost of USD 2.2 billion.
Modi invited Vietnam to look at India as an attractive investment destination and urged Vietnamese entrepreneurs to invest in North East India which he said is a focus area for India's Act East Policy.