Key pacts to be signed during President's visit to Vietnam

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India and Vietnam are likely to sign key agreements in the field of defence, trade and culture during the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to this strategically-important country next month.

While India has decided to ramp up its engagement with Vietnam in the oil sector and deepen defence ties, Hanoi wants it to do more especially in maintaining freedom of navigation, maritime safety and security in the disputed South China Sea.

Due to its estranged ties with China, Vietnam is looking at India for a deeper defence cooperation which includes possible procurement of weaponry besides training especially that of the Navy.

India has been a major ally for Vietnam in the region and there is a working synergy between the armed forces of the two countries.

Vietnam is also looking at buying BrahMos missiles which is jointly manufactured by Russia and India. Vietnam is said to have requested India for submarine training and for conversion training for its pilots to fly Sukhoi-30 aircrafts.

Southeast Asian and Latin American countries have shown interest in acquiring the 290km range weapon system and it is possible to export the missile to certain friendly nations.

Defence Ministry sources in Delhi had said that Vietnam and Indonesia in South East Asia and Venezuela in Latin America have expressed willingness to procure the missile.

However, sources maintain that Indian defence cooperation is currently focussed on providing human resource development for the Vietnamese military including language learning and other training modules. They admitted that various other proposals are under different stages of discussion.

Another key area for cooperation is the oil sector.

In a move that could rile China, which has publicly asked New Delhi to stay off from the resource-rich South China Sea, India is assessing whether to explore in five new blocks that have been offered by Vietnam.

Indian diplomats remained tight-lipped about the kind of agreements that would be signed during Mukherjee's visit in middle of next month.

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