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Transcript of Joint Media Interaction by External Affairs Minister and Foreign Minister of Vietnam (July 11, 2013)

July 11, 2013

Official Spokesperson (Shri Syed Akbaruddin): Good afternoon friends, I welcome you to this media interaction. As is usual, we will begin with opening remarks. I now request the External Affairs Minister of India, Shri Salman Khurshid, to make his opening remarks.

External Affairs Minister of India (Shri Salman Khurshid):Your Excellency Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam; distinguished members of the Vietnamese Delegation, colleagues from the Indian Delegation, and friends from the media:

It is a great honour and indeed a great pleasure to be welcoming a very good friend of India and a friend of mine who is visiting India for the fifteenth meeting of the Joint Commission between our two countries. This is the platform for strengthening our Strategic Partnership. We took advantage of this occasion to spend some time together and agreed in frank and friendly discussions to consolidate our activities with greater content the partnership and bilateral relations that we have in the field of defence, security, trade, investment, science and technology, information technology, capacity building and human resource development, agriculture, education and culture, as indeed all other areas of common interest.

We took stock of entire range of the bilateral relations and identified areas in future cooperation that will not only strengthen our relationship but give benefit to people on both sides through the implementation of the activities that we have agreed for years 2011 to 2013 under the bilateral cooperation and exchanges that we have agreed and the planned activities for the 2013-2015 period.

At the end of the meeting we have also signed the agreed minutes of the JCM. You have witnessed also just now the signing of agreement on the US$ 19.5 million LoC. This is for the setting up of the Nam Trai-IV hydropower project and the Binh Bo Pumping station by CMD, Exim Bank on our side and the Vietnamese Vice-Minister of Finance.

The Hon. Minister will call on our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during this visit. He will also deliver a speech on "India-Vietnam Relations and Regional Issues” at the ICWA.

We believe and we have agreed that it is important that this warm and fruitful relationship that we have between our two countries needs to be continuously fed by important high-level visits that have in the past played a very important role in consolidating our relationship. And these regular meetings that we have, we expect and hope, will continue at the highest level. The institutional architecture of the India-Vietnam strategic partnership is based on the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership that was made in 2007 and the dialogue mechanisms that we have in place.

We want to acknowledge and thank Vietnam for regularly reiterating its support for India's candidature for permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council. In this context Vietnam has signed the G4 Draft Resolution on the reforms of the UNSC, and we express our gratitude. Our security and defence cooperation is robust and growing because we have shared common interest and convergence in security perceptions. And this has played a very major role in India’s engagement with ASEAN as well.

On the economic ties, we can express with satisfaction that they continue to expand with Vietnam receiving substantial Indian private sector investments and growing trade. Bilateral trade has grown to US$ 6.1 billion in 2012-13. We are well on track to cross the target of US$ 7 billion that we have put for the 2015 deadline.

Investments by Indian companies now total about US$ 936 million 86 separate projects in sectors such as oil and gas exploration, mineral exploration, processing, sugar manufacturing, agro-chemicals, IT, and the agricultural processing sector.

Very recently, Vietnam has chosen Tata Power as developer for a US$ 1.8 billion 2x660 MW Long Phu-2 thermal power project in Soc Trang Province in southern Vietnam. And this came despite strong competition from friendly countries like Korea and Russia. It will be the single largest Indian investment in Vietnam when it comes through and will give a strong boost to our economic cooperation and strategic partnership.

The MoU between two Central Banks - that is the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Vietnam - signed in 2012 will enable Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank to upgrade their representative offices, that they have opened in Ho Chi Minh City in February 2003 and March 2008 respectively, into full-fledged branches in the very near future.

India has extended 17 LoCs totaling US$ 164.5 million, including the US$ 19.5 million that I just mentioned. India has also agreed to consider earmarking another US$ 100 million under the Buyer's Credit under the National Export Insurance Account, for use by Vietnam.

In capacity building and in human resource development we have a very strong relationship. Vietnam has been participating actively in training programmes under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC). A 150 ITEC slots are being offered to Vietnam at present every year along with 16 scholarships under the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS), 14 scholarships under the Educational Exchange Programme (EEP), and 10 scholarships under the MGC Scholarship Scheme.

We have set up a US$ 2 million Vietnam-India Advanced Resource Centre in ICT in Hanoi; and we are providing very soon a PARAM Supercomputer costing Rs 4.7 crore as a grant for use in multiple applications.

The Vietnam-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre and the Vietnam-India English Language Training Center have been established with Indian assistance under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) as well. An IBSA-funded Rice Seed Improvement Project in Danang is ongoing and is very successful.

We plan to establish the Indian Cultural Centre in Hanoi this year and hope that it will further promote cultural cooperation between our two countries. Archaeological Survey of India is about to finalise an agreement on conservation of ancient remains of the Cham Civilization in My Son. This will help revive the ancient heritage and cultural links that we have between our two countries and that we all cherish greatly.We attach great importance to the development of our relations with Vietnam and move forward on India-Vietnam strategic partnership by adding more content in all areas all the time.

You will recall, ladies and gentlemen, the year 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Vietnam, the fifth anniversary of the India-Vietnam Strategic Partnership, the twentieth anniversary of partnership between India and ASEAN. So, there is convergence on all sides. The two sides, therefore, celebrated it as the Year of Friendship between India and Vietnam, and we expect that friendship to grow from strength to strength.

Thank you very much.

Official Spokesperson: I now request the Foreign Minister of Vietnam to make his opening remarks.

Foreign Minister of Vietnam (Mr. Pham Binh Minh): Thank you Your Excellency Minister Salman Khurshid.

Ladies and gentlemen, Minister Khurshid and I have just successfully co-chaired the 15th Joint Commission Meeting. The meeting was held in a friendly and cooperative atmosphere and in the spirit of the Vietnam-India traditional friendship and mutual trust.

Mr. Minister and I have discussed at length the bilateral cooperation and regional and international issues of mutual interest. We noted with satisfaction the positive developments in the Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership in the past years, especially in all pillars such as politics, economy, security and defence, science and technology, and culture and education.

We also noted that there remains vast potential for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation particularly in high technologies, oil and gas, tourism, and agricultural production.

In further promoting bilateral cooperation in all areas, Minister Khurshid and I agreed upon major directions and concrete actions such as sustaining the exchange of visits at high level and low level, and soon opening direct flights to facilitate tourism and people-to-people exchanges. We also agreed to establish a joint trade sub-commission under the Joint Commission towards obtaining the US$ 7 billion in trade turnover by 2015.

Vietnam is committed to creating favourable conditions for Indian business investing in Vietnam. I am joined in this mission by representatives of various agencies from Vietnam – Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Public Security, Industry and Trade, Investment and Planning Education. And they have had detailed discussions with their Indian counterparts on how our bilateral cooperation could be more effective and practical.

I agree totally with all the Minister has briefed you on the positive developments of relations between Vietnam and India.

I also would like to take this opportunity to affirm our support to India’s Look East Policy which manifests India’s more active role in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large thus contributing to shared developments of the region for peace, stability and prosperity.Concerning regional and international issues we agreed to continue our close coordination and cooperation at regional and international fora such as the United Nations, the Nonaligned Movement, and other ASEAN mechanisms.

Also we would like to take this opportunity to thank India for supporting Vietnam’s candidature to the Human Rights Council for the term 2014-2016, and the International Hydrographic Organisation.

I also would like to thank the Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing and chairing this meeting.

Thank you.

Official Spokesperson: The two Ministers have agreed to take a couple of questions

Question (Vietnam News Agency): As I know, the relationship between Vietnam and India is very good. But Excellency, could you give some details on what India can do put ahead the key aspect of Vietnam-India strategic partnership including defence, security ties, trade and investment, information technology, science and technology cooperation?

External Affairs Minister of India: You will see when the agreed minutes are made available, we have had very extensive convergence both of strategies and of the objectives that we need to meet in all these fields. Of course it would involve some more meetings of high officials, and I have invited Minister for Defence later this year before the visit of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. We hope that there will be other visits perhaps on both sides so that we can complete some more formalities and get closer to the delivery that we aspire on all these fields.

In many areas it involves institution building or consolidation; in many areas it will involve some more work for the MoUs to be signed. And in defence we want including defence and security issues to be able to consult much further. And of course the supply of patrol vehicles to the Border Guards Organisation on the Vietnamese side will be a major and unique step of expression of our solidarity and friendship. So, in the entire range of issues that have been mentioned by His Excellency and have been mentioned by me, we are looking at how we take the relationship forward in a substantive and specific way within the timelines that are drawn up.

Question (Press Trust of India): Was the issue of South China Sea discussed? …(Inaudible)…

External Affairs Minister of India: There are no issues but I will let the Minister answer this.

Foreign Minister of Vietnam: Minister Khurshid and I have discussions on a wide range of issues, on all the issues of bilateral relations as well as the relations of mutual interest. So, South China Sea or Eastern Sea is one of the issues we have also had discussions on. Our position is that we need to respect the international law, UNCLOS to solve the issue in South China Sea namely that the peaceful resolution of the issue.

We also reaffirmed all the rights of the countries to have the rights in the exclusive economic zone. So, all the blocks that India has exploitation and exploration basins are well within the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam.

External Affairs Minister of India: We have expressed our commitment for continuing our collaboration with Vietnam in the field of exploration. We have reiterated that these are commercial ventures by the Indian companies. This is other than the fact that we have, not just here but also at the ASEAN meeting, reiterated India’s commitment to free passage in the international waters, and have indicated that if there is an issue of a bilateral nature it should be settled bilaterally through dialogue in a peaceful manner. But this was also an issue that was discussed widely at the ARF. And I think a convergence of points of view within the ASEAN countries has become apparent to move towards negotiating the COC for South China Sea.

Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. With that we come to the end of this event.


For video of this media interaction, please visit:
Visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Joint Media Interaction


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