New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Friday assured Vietnam of India’s help in modernisation of its armed forces, with a focus on enhancing maritime capabilities, as both sides work on a new joint vision statement, ThePrint has learnt.
The assurance came as Singh held bilateral talks with his Vietnamese counterpart General Ngo Xuan Lich over video-conferencing.
India has been in talks with Vietnam, which has maritime border issues with China in the South China Sea, over Hanoi’s interest in acquiring the Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile BrahMos.
Defence sources said Vietnam is keen on acquiring a host of military equipment, including India’s Akash air defence system and the Dhruv helicopters, besides the BrahMos.
According to sources in the know of bilateral discussions held Friday, Singh told his counterpart that defence cooperation has been one of the most significant pillars of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership initiated by the two countries in 2016.
Both countries, the sources added, are committed to maintenance of security and stability in their countries, the region and also addressing non-traditional security threats.
“India remains committed to the modernisation of Vietnamese armed forces,” Singh was quoted as saying.
While Vietnam has been keen on acquiring the BrahMos, a deal has not materialised because of a number of reasons, including funding.
Roman Babushkin, deputy chief of mission, Russian Embassy, had said earlier this month that Brahmos Aerospace plans to start exporting the missiles to third countries, starting with the Philippines.
A new joint vision statement
Sources said the two countries are now looking for a joint vision statement next year, with the five-year term envisaged in the earlier one — the ‘Joint Vision Statement for 2015-2020’, signed May 2015 — ending in 2020.
Besides extending Line of Credit arrangements with Vietnam, India remains resolved to capability-building and enhancement in the armed forces of Vietnam, sources in the defence ministry said.
Joint training involving pilots of the respective air forces and training of forces for deployment on UN assignments are another area of focus, a source said. Collaboration in defence industry capability-building, training, and cooperation in UN Peacekeeping Operations was also discussed by the ministers.
“India sees Vietnam as a friendly foreign country with shared concerns and common interests. Both countries are also looking at collaborating in multiple domains of defence cooperation like ship-building, surface and subsurface capacities at sea,” the source added.
A statement released by the Ministry of Defence Friday said both sides signed an implementing arrangement for cooperation in the field of hydrography. The arrangement will enable sharing of hydrographic data and assist in the production of navigational charts by both sides.
Indian firm L&T is currently in the process of constructing 12 high-speed patrol boats for the Vietnam Border Guard.