Ahead of President Ram Nath Kovind visit to Vietnam from Nov 18-21, Vietnam on Thursday opposed the “Quad” or quadrilateral coalition among India, the US, Japan and Australia. Topping the agenda of talks between the leaders of India and Vietnam, enhancing defence and security cooperation will be the focus areas.
Separately, sources said Vietnam has also put into cold storage plans to buy Akash surface-to-air missile defence systems. Indian government is trying to address Vietnam’s concerns to make sure that sale of defence systems goes through, sources said.
In response to queries on whether Vietnam supports the “Quad’’ Vietnam’s newly-appointed envoy to India Pham Sanh Chau said that his country was opposed to any formation of any military alliance and that there is a need to maintain peace, security, stability and freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea.
Adding, that his country was not in the favour of the region to be a “theatre” of power-play by major powers. The comments of the envoy are of significance as they come just a couple of days ahead of Kovind’s visit to that country.
Sources also confirmed to FE that the proposed sale of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile an Indo-Russian joint venture, too has taken a back seat as there has been no response from Hanoi.
As reported by FE earlier, the two countries have inked a “joint vision statement on defence for 2015-2020” in May 2015, where both sides decided to elevate their “strategic partnership” to “comprehensive strategic partnership” during Modi’s visit in September 2016.
The $ 500 mn line of credit offered in 2016 has yet to be operationalised for facilitating deeper defence cooperation with the south East Asian nation.
President Kovind will address the National Assembly of Vietnam. Apart from him, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been the only foreign leader to address the National Assembly till now.
In August this year, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had visited Vietnam and several MoUs were inked between the two countries.
India has also offered to train Vietnamese fighter pilots to fly the Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, just as it has been training sailors of that country’s Navy in operating Kilo-class submarines for the last four years.
As has been reported in 2017, joined together to form “Quad’’ in an effort to plan new strategy to keep the sea routes in the Indo-Pacific safe.
While US has been pushing India to play a major role in the Indo-Pacific, New Delhi has been reluctant in giving any military shape in the Quad.
In today’s press interaction the Vietnamese envoy also made it clear that it was against his country policy to be an ally with any country or bloc.
To a question about China’s opposing India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) exploring oil in areas claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea, according to the envoy there has been no opposition from any third country and that both Petrovietnam and ONGC have been going ahead with their exploration.