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PM kicks off two-nation tour with Vietnam; defence, trade top on agenda

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New Delhi [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday kicked off his two-nation tour starting with visit to Vietnamese capital Hanoi on September 2-3 to deepen ties in key areas of defence, security and trade, and oil exploration.

He will arrive in Hanoi in the night, while his official programme will begin the next morning.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister will hold bilateral talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc and will also meet President Tran Dai Quang.

Briefing the media here on Friday, Secretary (East), External Affairs Ministry, Preeti Saran, said: “Vietnam is India’s important strategic partner and the visit is aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties, including defence, security and trade.

“Vietnam is a central pillar of India’s Act East Policy and our priorities for cooperation range in a whole host of areas, including defence and security, trade and investment, maritime cooperation, energy resources, in integrating our self to the ASEAN community and for leveraging our interactions in the regional and international forums,” said Saran.

“Defence and security cooperation with Vietnam is very robust, which includes counterterrorism, trans-national crimes. Our focus is on capacity building, training, high-level exchanges and more recently defence procurement,” she added.

Stating that India’s bilateral trade with Vietnam has been growing at almost 26 percent per annum in the last few years and today it stands at 7.8 billion dollars, she said, “We have surplus trade with Vietnam to the tune of 2.8 billion dollars. Last time when our leaders met, they agreed to set up a trade target of 15 billion dollars by 2020. And the areas that we focus in our trade relationship are in textile, pharmaceuticals, machinery, IT and other service sectors.”

The Prime Minister will leave for Hangzhou, China, from Vietnam in the evening on Saturday to attend the G-20 Summit on September 4 and 5.

“During the visit, India will take up issues like cross-border mobility of professionals, terror financing, tax evasion and reduction in remittance transaction cost among others,” said Secretary (West) Sujata Mehta.

She said Prime Minister Modi will be the lead speaker at the session on inclusive and inter connected development.

On the sidelines of the Summit, the Prime Minister will have bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It would be the first meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Jinping after their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Uzbekistan capital Tashkent, where the former had urged China to make a “fair and objective” assessment of India’s application on merit for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

On August 12, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited New Delhi possibly to firm up the agenda for the talks between President Jinping and Prime Minister Modi.

According to a report in China’s state-owned Global Times, Foreign Minister Yi may also use his visit to New Delhi to acquire a perspective and an assessment of Prime Minister Modi’s visits to Vietnam and Laos.

According to reports, Beijing is viewing Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Vietnam rather closely, given that Hanoi is also a party in the South China Sea dispute and has also staked a maritime and rich energy resource claim to use of its waters.

The Prime Minister will also attend a BRICS leaders’ meet.

The Prime Minister will return to India on September 5.

On September 7, Prime Minister Modi will leave for Laos PDR on a two-day visit to attend the annual India-ASEAN and East Asia summits.

At the ASEAN-India Summit, the Prime Minister and ASEAN leaders will review ASEAN-India cooperation and discuss its future direction in the areas of politico-security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation. The leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern. (ANI)

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