India and Vietnam adopt action plan for 2004-2006

Oct 18, 2004 02:00 AM

India on 18 October offered its assistance to Vietnam in developing its petroleum, trade, information and technology and atomic energy sectors, as the two countries for the first time adopted an action plan for 2004-2006 envisaging cooperation in various fields. Visiting External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Dy Nien signed a joint commission agreement covering a range of arenas for cooperation.
Singh told the Joint Commission meeting that New Delhi wanted to set up a Vietnam-India Foundation for diversifying bilateral ties between the two nations whose friendship dates back more than 50 years. The two sides discussed cooperation in areas like trade, investment, industry, energy, transport, credit, agriculture, science and technology, IT, telecom, civil aviation, tourism, HRD [Human Resource Development], culture and health.

The two countries also agreed to cooperate on the peaceful uses of atomic energy. They also decided to hold vice-ministers level meeting as a part of defence cooperation.
"The inherent trust and faith that characterize our bilateral relations also provide a sound foundation for the ongoing and future defence cooperation. There is significant commonality of equipment between our armed forces and we feel that there is a vast scope to expand this cooperation," Singh said, adding Indian defence minister would visit Vietnam in the near future.

Vietnamese foreign minister expressed concern over unsolved conflicts and tensions in many parts of the world and said unilateralism has increased the threats to national and world security and stability. The political relations between India and Vietnam had always been excellent but there was a need to raise the level of cooperation in other fields to make it "commensurate with the level of political goodwill", Singh told the 12th Meeting of the Vietnam-India Joint Commission on Economic, Cultural and Scientific Cooperation.
"Some of the thrust areas could be energy, pharmaceuticals, information technology, science and technology, including space," he said, adding that India would be "most willing to participate in joint projects for achieving these goals". India also proposes to gift a package of medicines for treatment of ailments such as HIV/AIDS and TB for distribution through public health system, Singh added.

Vietnamese foreign minister said both countries should increase cooperation to contribute in the ongoing efforts in the region and the world to safeguard peace and stability. He thanked India for the new credit line of $ 27 mm to carry out socio-economic development programmes and said there should be more frequent exchange of delegations at all levels to strengthen bilateral relations.
India has expressed its full support to Vietnam's accession to WTO. To Vietnam's concerns over imbalance of trade between the two countries, India agreed to support marketing of Vietnamese goods in its market. Officials told that Vietnam had sought India's assistance in the CNG [compressed natural gas] sector and it was decided that GAIL [Indian firm] would provide the necessary help.

India has shown interest in developing refinery and downstream projects and also the marketing of refined products as joint ventures or on sole basis, officials said. India supported Vietnam's power strategy and wanted to be involved in its power generation plants.
"We have invited a power delegation from here to see power plants in India," the official said, adding that India would be a viable partner to improve Vietnam's existing power plants.

India has signed an agreement with Hanoi People's Commission to set up six IT centres in Vietnam.
"We want to expand on these areas," the official said, adding that New Delhi wanted to set up a joint working group in higher education training as a part of its HRD programme.
The two sides also discussed tourism and civil aviation with a view to having direct flights to each other's country. Vietnam has asked for the rights to fly beyond India to Europe and offered India rights to China and other countries. Vietnam has asked for Indian assistance in using remote sensing data for water resource management.

Source: BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific
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