Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Vietnam during June 8-10 with an aim to further further consolidate bilateral defence ties as well as the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries at a time when China is increasingly flexing muscles in the region.
Besides holding high-level meetings with the country's leadership, Singh will hand over over 12 high-speed guard boats to Vietnam during the three-day visit that have been built with Indian assistance.
The Defence Ministry said Singh will hold extensive talks with his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Giang with a focus on exploring new initiatives to further strengthen the defence engagements, besides exchanging views on regional and global issues of shared interest.
Singh will also meet Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
The visit is significant as Vietnam has become an important partner in India's Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision. An important country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region. India has oil exploration projects in the Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea. The two countries are boosting their maritime security cooperation in the last few years to protect common interests.
The relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of a "strategic partnership" during the visit of Vietnam's then-Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to India in July 2007. In 2016, during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Vietnam, the bilateral relations were further elevated to a "comprehensive strategic partnership".
The Defence Ministry said, "At the Hong Ha Shipyard in Hai Phong, the defence minister will preside over the handing over ceremony of 12 high-speed guard boats constructed under the government of India's USD 100 million defence line of credit to Vietnam.
"This project is significant in the context of the growing defence industry cooperation with Vietnam and exemplifies Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' and 'Make in India, Make for the World'."
During his Vietnam visit, Singh will also visit training institutions of the country at Nha Trang, including the Telecommunication University where an Army Software Park is being established with a $5 million grant from India. He will also attend a community event organised by the Embassy of India in Hanoi and interact with the Indian diaspora.
The Defence Ministry said, "The defence minister's visit on the historic occasion of 50 years of establishment of India-Vietnam diplomatic relations and 75 years of India's Independence will further consolidate the bilateral defence cooperation and the comprehensive strategic partnership."
Last week, Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), visited Vietnam for the 12th round of political consultations and the ninth round of strategic dialogue in Hanoi.
(With PTI inputs)