Visits Visits

Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (East) during State visit of President to Vietnam (November 20, 2018)

November 21, 2018

Dir (XPD) : Good afternoon. A very warm welcome to all for this special briefing on President’s visit to Vietnam. To brief you with us Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) Ministry of External Affairs and Mr. Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the President and Ambassador Mr. P Harish, who represents India in Vietnam and Mr. Manish, Jt. Secretary (South) from Ministry of External Affairs. Before the briefing let me just tell you about the rules, please ask only one question per person, please don’t ask any supplementary question. If we have time then we will go for another round of questions.

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: Good afternoon all. We are meeting as Rashtrapati Ji’s visit is going on very successfully and very productively. His first stop is Vietnam as you know in Da Nang in Central Vietnam. He was received by the Party Secretary and the Chairman of the People’s Committee of the city who later hosted a banquet in his honor as well.

He visited the over 100 years old Cham Museum in Da Nang which houses Hindu and Buddhists artefacts of the Champa civilization in Vietnam. He was also the first Indian leader to undertake a visit to the UNESCO world heritage site of My Son where the Archaeological Survey of India is working on the conservation and the Preservation and the restoration of three groups of temples.

Rashtrapati Ji’s visit to Da Nang and My Son highlights the joint civilizational heritage and the connect between our two countries. Arriving at Hanoi yesterday Rashtrapati Ji was very warmly received at the airport with a Guard of Honor, thereafter Rashtrapati Ji addressed a 350 strong Vietnam-India Business Forum meeting jointly organized by chambers of commerce of the two countries in which the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam was also present.

In his remarks Rashtrapati Ji encouraged the businesses, industry groups of the two countries to explore the many possibilities of collaboration. In particular he mentioned agriculture, pharmaceutical, textile, renewable energy and IT services. Later he addressed the Indian community and the Vietnamese Friends of India and highlighted the government’s priority to reach out to the Indian overseas community not only because they are a bridge of friendship between the two countries but also they are very important contributor to whichever country they live in. He called on India and Vietnam to come together and help each other grow and prosper guided by the wisdom of Mekong and Ganga.

Today he was received by the chairperson of the National Assembly who in a meeting with Rashtrapati Ji recalled Prime Minister Modi’s remarks during Prime Minister Modi’s landmark visit to Vietnam in 2016 that while other countries come to Vietnam with a message of war, India comes to Vietnam with a message of peace and compassion just as 2000 years ago came the message of Lord Buddha.

Rashtrapati Ji was very warmly received in the National Assembly Hall by the Prime Minister Phuc and then Rashtrapati Ji in a very unique honor to India and Rashtrapati Ji, he gave an address in the National Assembly of Vietnam that in which all members of the National Assembly, Representatives of the Provinces were present, other ministers were present, high level officials were present. So in that it was a very very important address to the National Assembly and Rashtrapati Ji became the first Indian leader to address the National Assembly.

Speaking at the Assembly, as you all would have noted, he mentioned that he chose Vietnam to be the first country that he would visit in South East Asia because Vietnam is a pivot to India’s Act East Policy and because Vietnam is comprehensive strategic Partner with whom we have convergence of views and interests on global and regional issues. He also referred to the common challenges that we face and he invited Vietnam to join the International Solar Alliance.

Thereafter Rashtrapati Ji visited monument of National Heroes and Martyrs and paid respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Then Rashtrapati Ji and First Lady were accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace by President Phu Trong and his spouse. The two leaders held restricted talks as well as full delegation level talks. The discussions were substantive, fruitful and particularly warm. We discussed bilateral regional and global issues for mutual concern. Rashtrapati Ji congratulated President Phu Trong on his election by the National Assembly with an overwhelming majority as the President of Vietnam.

Both leaders expressed their commitment to continue high level political exchanges and deepen engagement in the various elements of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership especially defence & security cooperation, economic engagement, development partnership and people to people contacts. Both leaders highlighted the active defence & security cooperation between the two countries including training, UN Peacekeeping and maritime security. They expressed their satisfaction on the implementation of the $100 million line of credit which is being used for high speed off-shore vessels. The Vietnamese side thanked India for $500 million line of credit and urged India to continue to assist Vietnam for its requirements in the defense sector.

They reiterated their commitment to have the first maritime security dialogue soon and also agreed to further cyber-security cooperation. Both leaders reviewed bilateral trade and investment and expressed confidence that the target of $15 billion which has been set for 2020 will be achieved. The leaders also welcomed the existing collaborations and investment by OVL with Petro Vietnam in oil & gas in Vietnam and welcomed tripartite agreement in this regard. They also concluded that a facilitating connectivity between the two countries is vital in promoting trade & business.

On development cooperation Vietnamese side deeply appreciated India for its human resource development support over the years under the ITEC and ICCR scholarships. President Phu Trong referred to the quick impact projects which were being undertaken by India in Vietnam over the last few years as well as the camps being held for the Jaipur Foot camps.

President Phu Trong thanked India for its work with the Cham community in Vietnam. Both leaders reviewed regional peace and security in the context of Asia Pacific region, Rashtrapati Ji reiterated India’s vision for a free, open, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on international law and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty in which ASEAN centrality and unity is at the core.

On South China Sea there was convergence of views on ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and resolution of disputes in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law notably the UNCLOS of 1982. Both leaders agreed to cooperate at regional and multilateral fora and support each other’s candidature at the UN Security Council non-permanent membership seat elections.

They also agreed to work for a consensus for an early adoption on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Rashtrapati Ji expressed appreciation to Vietnam for their role as a country coordinator in ASEAN during 2015-2018 when the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit took place in New Delhi to mark 25 years of strong and growing partnership between ASEAN and India. You are aware four MoUs were signed in the field of communications, higher education, trade & investment to take forward our bilateral relationship.

Rashtrapati Ji will be meeting Prime Minister Phuc who will call on him later today and later there will be a banquet hosted in his honor by President Phu Trong. A joint statement will be issued which you will see on the website and it is a detailed joint statement which is being agreed to by the two sides. Rashtrapati Ji later tonight will leave for the second leg of visit which is to Australia.

I can only say that Rashtrapati Ji’s visit has been very significant, a landmark visit, being the first visit of Rashtrapati Ji to the East of India and the first interaction between the leaders of two countries since the election of President Phu Trong earlier in October this year. The visit also has a very significant element of his address to the National Assembly of Vietnam. I will stop here now. Thank you.

Dir(XPD): Thank you very much Ma’am. Now I request Mr. Ashok Malik to make few remarks.

Press Secretary to the President, Shri Ashok Malik:
Thank you Venkat. After the very comprehensive briefing given by the Secretary there is very little to add. All I’d like to say is that there are four aspects to President’s visit to any country he does chose to travel to. There is usually a political and diplomatic element, there is an economic, business and trade component. There is a diaspora engagement element and finally there is cultural diplomacy power connect component.

It’s very rare that all four components are covered in a visit. We usually cover two or three. Vietnam has been an unusually successful visit in that sense as we have covered all four aspects. There has been a rich dialogue as Secretary explained on political, diplomatic and related issues. There has been promotion of the growing trade between the two countries and the business forum. There was a diaspora interaction yesterday which went very well in fact went viral on social media.

Finally the visit to the Da Nang revealed with even better intensity the long standing civilization links between India and Vietnam and while there the President reviewed the Archaeological Survey of India’s support for restoration projects in the My Son temple complex. As Rashtrapati Ji commented to some of us and in fact mentioned to the Vietnamese President as well 2018 has been an unusually intense year in terms of diplomatic relations. It’s not often that you have three high level visit exchanges between two countries. As Secretary mentioned Vietnamese Prime Minister and the late President were in India this year and this has been followed by the President of India visiting. This does tell us that relationship is on a very good footing and the President is glad that he had been able to contribute in taking it forward. Thank you.

Dir(XPD) : Thank you very much sir. Now the floor is open for questions.

Question: …………….. also in the President’s speech in National Assembly spoke about India not wanting to ask friends to make choices. What choices was he referring to, in particular China, Pakistan?

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: See, President’s statement speaks for itself, I am not going to interpretations but let me come on to the discussions that we have with whenever we travel overseas and whatever on the table is bilateral relations, the regional issues, international issues of common and mutual interests.

As far as China Sea is concerned, yes, it was discussed because you do know that as far as India is concerned we do see a lot of our trade going through the South China Sea and therefore we have stakes in that area. We also feel that all issues that are there should be resolved without resorting to force and they should be resolved in accordance with International laws in particular UNCLOS and we also say the common position which both countries i.e. Vietnam and India that there should be freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight and unimpeded economic interaction. So we discussed these and there was a similarity of views and their convergence by both India and Vietnam on this issue.

Question: From the account you gave, issues related to regional security architecture in the Indo-Pacific, we spoke about convergence of positions but you know there is a nuance in here, Vietnam’s President spoke about Indo-Asia-Pacific. This expression has been used earlier also by Vietnam’s Prime Minister. Would you say there is a complete convergence of position between India and Vietnam on Indo-Pacific?

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: I would say that once you see the joint declaration you will see that there is agreement on the principles of what the Indo-Pacific region should be. There is agreement that it should be open, it should be free, it should be peaceful, it should be progressive and that it should be inclusive. So in that sense there is a convergence of views. So id not see as I said even earlier that there is a convergence of views on the principles of Indo-Pacific.

Question Contd.: ………… Inaudible …………….

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: Indo-Pacific is a concept which is there, discussions about Indo-Pacific have been taking place and exchange of views even in the last East Asia Summit it was discussed. It is ideas which are there so I would say that as far as India is concerned as India said there is a centrality of ASEAN. So I don’t think you should be reading too much into it. You should be looking at the principles and the agreement that we have on the principles as how to approach the region. That is the most important thing.

Question: Vietnam Bharat ko kis kis kshetra mein sahyog kar raha hai aur jaisa aapne bataya ki financial help 2020 tak humne de rakhhi hai Vietnam ko, to kis kshetra mein ab tak Vietnam dwara kitna kaam kiya jaa chukka hai?

(What are the areas in which India is assisting Vietnam and as you said we have provided financial help to Vietnam till 2020, so how much work has been done by Vietnam and in which areas?)

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: I will provide the details of economic aspect of relations between India and Vietnam. On the economic aspects between India and Vietnam, we have very good trade. If you look at the way trade has grown, it was only about $3.8 billion in 2010, today it stands at $12.8 billion and our target for the trade is $15 billion by 2020. So that is the target we have set for bilateral trade.

As far as investments is concerned, you would have heard Rashtrapati Ji, he gave a very broad indication of the areas in which the two countries are interested and are willing to work together. There is oil & gas, there is IT, there is renewable energy. He had mentioned all those, pharmaceuticals, so these are the areas in which we can look at working together in a collaborative manner. We are looking at issue of capacity building. There is, as I mentioned, about 200 ITEC slots which we give for capacity building to Vietnam. In addition we have about 48 scholarships.

So within the whole gamut of engaging with Vietnam in the economic sphere, in the capacity building, it is very intense and both sides are committed to taking it forward.

Question: Dono deshon ke beech aaj chaar samjhaute kiye gaye hain. Bharat aur Vietnam ke rishte bahut hi pragaadh hain aur cultural bhi hain. Kaun aise sectors hain jahan par hum aur badhaawa de sakte hain?

(Four agreements have been signed between both countries. India and Vietnam have very close ties. What are the various other sectors where which we can promote further?)

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh:
Abhi Rashtrapati Ji ki yatra hai to inhi sab ke baare mein to baat hui hai. Saare jo kshetra hain jahan hum kaam kar sakte hain, unke baare mein samjhaute ho gaye hain, jahan hum kaam mein lage hue hain, unpar baatcheet ho rahi hai. Jahan possible agla bhi ho sakta hai uske baare mein dono desh hamesha hi contact mein rahte hain. To baatcheet to chalti hi rahti hai. Ye rishta hai jo badh raha hai, badhate rishton mein naye-naye areas hote hain jo khulte hain, bahut baatcheet hoti hai, to main yahi kahungi ki ye badhata rishta hai.

(During the visit of President, these are the things which were discussed. All the areas where we can collaborate we have got agreements in those areas. Where there is work in progress we are discussing those things. Whatever next areas where there is a possibility of cooperation and collaboration, both the countries keep in constant touch, so discussions are always alive. This is a growing relation and there are always new sectors and areas that open up in growing relations. So I would say that it is a growing relationship.)

Question: About the choices that the President had talked about, that we don’t want our friends and allies to choose, what did he mean, what kind of choices?

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: I would say that the statement speaks for itself. That I think when Rashtrapati Ji spoke at the National Assembly and was addressing the entire nation of Vietnam and we are there he mentioned the policy which is very much framed there. I don’t think we should interpret Rashtrapati Ji, it is very clear and it speaks for itself.

Question: On hydrocarbons, Vietnam had earlier also invited Indian companies to bid for oil blocks, what is the status there? Have we bid for any block, you just spoke about tripartite agreement, what is the progress on hydrocarbons?

Secretary (East), Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh: See, hydrocarbons is the sector where we have been working with the Vietnam for last 25 years. So we are old partners, we are here and as the question was asked which are the other areas we are looking at, we are looking for opportunities. Wherever there is an opportunity our companies will be there and it is a sector we will be working on and it is a very promising sector and we will explore opportunities.

Dir(XPD) : Since there are no more questions, we conclude this press briefing. Thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)



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