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Against any defence tie-up, says Vietnam; Prez visit next week 

New Delhi, November 15

Amid growing engagement with countries in the East, President Ramnath Kovind is scheduled to travel this Sunday to Vietnam, an important country in the region that on Thursday said the level of interaction adds strength to the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Interacting with the media ahead of the President’s November 18-21 visit, Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau said stepping up the level of engagement between the two countries is a sign of growing confidence and maturity in ties upgraded in 2016, the year PM Narendra Modi visited the country.

Vietnam, he said, attaches great importance to its ties with India and made an exception with two high-level visits this year with President Tran Dai Quang coming here a month after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended the ASEAN Commemorative Summit and Republic Day. 

On the bilateral front, his priority includes operationalising a direct flight to Vietnam. As for trade after initial struggle to reach $1 billion a decade ago, he said it boomed recording $8.5 billion (in 2017) and $9.2 billion till October. Both countries have an ambitious target of $15 billion by 2020. Responding to questions on Vietnam’s view on Quad, the Ambassador said “…anything that brings peace, stability, security, freedom of navigation and flight in South China Sea…we welcome the initiative that follows the code of conduct both inside and outside of the region”.

Quad, a grouping of the US, Japan, Australia and India, in 2007 attracted adverse reactions from China after the joint Malabar exercise. After being dormant since, it was re-energised recently with officials from these countries holding meetings, including one in Singapore on Thursday.

The Vietnamese Ambassador said his country was opposed to any military alliance in the region, or the use of threat or force against any country since it goes against the position of Vietnam that includes not aligning with any country nor playing host to any country or joining any country to fight another country.

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