Việt Nam plays important role in India’s Act East Policy: Indian lower house leader

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Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of Representatives) of India Om Birla gives an interview to Vietnam News Agency correspondent in India. — VNA/VNS Photo

NEW DELHI — Việt Nam is one of the major pillars in India’s Act East Policy and an important factor helping India strengthen its partnership with ASEAN, said Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of Representatives) of India Om Birla.

Granting an interview to a Vietnam News Agency correspondent in New Delhi on the occasion of Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ’s official visit to India from December 15-19, Birla underlined that the Việt Nam-India 50-year ties have been developed on a firm foundation of cultural and civilisational connections as well as strong mutual trust and understanding.

“Over the last 49 to 50 years, our relationship has grown from strength to strength, covering diverse areas of cooperation, such as trade and investment, defence, development partnership, cultural cooperation and people to people exchange,” he said, adding that the elevation of ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016 has helped further consolidate the two countries’ close partnership, and has paved the way for future cooperation.

He said he believes that the Vietnamese top legislator’s visit will add momentum to India and Việt Nam’s tradition of maintaining close parliamentary cooperation.

According to the Indian legislative leader, over the last two years, the world has been facing unprecedented disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and during those difficult times, India and Việt Nam have stood by each other, supplying critical medicines and equipment to support their fight against the pandemic. He added that the two Parliaments also played an important role, guiding and giving direction to these efforts.

Regarding cooperation between the two countries, Birla said that in the framework of the Mekong–Ganga Cooperation, India has implemented several Quick Impact Projects, building community-level infrastructure, which is directly benefiting the people of Việt Nam.

He went on to say that many Vietnamese students have benefited from scholarships to study in India, and have contributed to bringing the two countries closer, adding that he hopes more students would come to India utilising the 1,000 PhD fellowships offered to ASEAN countries.

“Keeping with the spirit of “Act East Policy”, we also hope to enhance both physical and digital connectivity with Việt Nam,” Birla said.

He said that India and Việt Nam share a common long-term interest in maintaining peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been shown in the joint vision for peace, prosperity and people that was adopted in 2020.

Asked about what Việt Nam and India should do to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and Indo-Pacific, as well as in the South China Sea (which is referred to as East Sea in Việt Nam), the legislative leader said Việt Nam and India have an abiding interest in maintaining peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region, which is also reflected in the “Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People” adopted by the two countries in December 2020, when both Prime Ministers, the then Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and Narendi Modi, participated in the Virtual Summit.

The two countries also share the fundamental principles of respect for international law and rules-based order, adding to the factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.

“Therefore, both countries must continue to strengthen their partnership, bilaterally, as well as through ASEAN framework and other multilateral mechanisms,” he said. — VNS

Việt Nam and India established diplomatic ties in 1972 and elevated the relationship to the comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016. They are working to implement an action programme materialising the partnership for 2021-23.

India is one of the 10 biggest trade partners of Việt Nam, with two-way trade reaching US$9.67 billion last year, and nearly $11 billion as of October 2021.

By October, India ranked 26th out of 140 countries and territories investing in Việt Nam with 310 projects worth some US$910 million, mainly in energy, mining, agricultural processing, sugar, tea, coffee, agricultural chemicals, IT and auto spare parts.

Việt Nam also invested in nine projects in India with total capital of nearly $6.03 million.

Progress has been made in collaboration in education-training, tourism and other spheres like agriculture, energy, development cooperation, science-technology, information and communications, natural resources and environment. — VNS

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