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PM Narendra Modi arrives in Vietnam; first premier in 15 years to visit the country

Hanoi(PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, flew into the Vietnamese capital on his maiden visit to hold wide-ranging talks with the country’s top leadership on ways to bolster strategic bilateral ties in key areas like defence, security, counter-terrorism and trade. The visit, that marks the first by an Indian premier to the country in 15 years, takes place on his way to Hangzhou, China to attend the G20 Summit beginning on Sunday.

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Vikas Swarup ✔ @MEAIndia
Hello to Hanoi! PM @narendramodi makes a late night arrival in Vietnam to begin the first leg of his 2 nation tour.
8:20 PM – 2 Sep 2016
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Modi will hold extensive talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and call on President Tran Dai Quang, on Saturday. He is also scheduled to meet Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

Defence, security, science and technology, trade and culture are some of the issues on the plate for the talks.

The premier will also pay homage to revered leader Ho Chi Minh, whom he described in his Facebook post as one of 20th century’s tallest leaders. He will lay a wreath at the Monument of National Heroes and Martyrs as well as visit the Quan Su Pagoda.

Ho Chi Minh, who is often called “the Vietnamese George Washington” by Communist Vietnamese, has a city named after him. After his death, Ho’s followers embalmed his body and put it in a tomb, the mausoleum, where he is still worshipped today.

“Vietnamese Prime Minister Phuc and I would also be discussing regional cooperation and stability and our multilateral cooperation,” Modi told Voice of Vietnam radio network earlier.

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 aimed to forge 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 that Vietnam was an integral member of ASEAN and is a “very important pillar in our Act East Policy”.

India’s ONGC Videsh Limited is engaged in oil exploration projects in Vietnam for over three decades and there may be announcements about new projects in the sector during the bilateral visit, which is taking place after a gap of 15 years.

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.

“We wish to forge a strong economic relationship with Vietnam that can mutually benefit our citizens. Strengthening the people to people ties will also be my endeavour during the Vietnam visit,” the premier said on his Facebook page on Friday.

His visit comes after the July final award by the Hague tribunal on the South China Sea issue. India’s position has always been that all parties adhere and respect the tribunal, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Officials in response to a question on Vietnam’s request to India to supply Brahmos missiles, on Thursday, said that both sides are engaged in “robust” conversation on stepping up cooperation in various areas including defence.

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