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Transcript of the Joint Media Interaction of External Affairs Minister and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister

January 09, 2013

Official Spokesperson (Shri Syed Akbaruddin): I welcome you to this media interaction. As is usual, we will begin with opening statements by the two dignitaries.

I now request the External Affairs Minister of India to make his opening statement to the press.

External Affairs Minister (Shri Salman Khurshid): Your Excellency Mr. Vu Van Ninh, Deputy Premier of Vietnam; friends from the media; ladies and gentlemen:

I am indeed very delighted to welcome His Excellency the Deputy Premier of Vietnam amidst us this morning. The Deputy Premier and I have just concluded a very productive round of discussions on the entire gamut of our bilateral relations and in particular on ways to take forward our strategic partnership.

The visit of the Deputy Premier to India this year is of special significance as he will be participating in the closing ceremony of the India-Vietnam Friendship Year celebrated in India which commemorates the 40th anniversary of our diplomatic relations and 5th anniversary of our strategic partnership. Correspondingly, we have celebrations taking place in Vietnam, the closing ceremony of which will be presided over by our own Vice-President.

India and Vietnam enjoy very close cooperation, I need hardly tell you this, in various sectors including economic, commercial, scientific and technical, defence, security, cultural and people-to-people.

Today we have discussed ways to promote connectivity and further strengthen economic cooperation. Our corporate sector, we are pleased to note, is already engaged in several areas in investment in Vietnam. We are working together on several other projects. I am confident that once Indian banks are fully operational in Vietnam under the agreement signed between the State Bank of Vietnam and RBI, it will provide further impetus to our economic relations. And that will help us achieve our target of bilateral trade of US$ 7 billion by 2015.

His Excellency and I agreed that we have to sustain high-level visits to keep our bilateral relationship getting stronger. The State Visit of His Excellency the President Truong Tan Sang to India in October 2011 was significant from that point of view. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has greatly appreciated the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam to India for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit which was held in December last year. This was yet another occasion for the leaders of the two countries to discuss various issues and deepen what is already an excellent relationship.

We consider Vietnam as a major pillar of our Look East Policy. I reiterated to His Excellency that India accords the highest priority to further strengthening of our ties with Vietnam, and will continue to work closely with it within the framework of multilateral fora such as ASEAN, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, United Nations, and others as well.

In the Friendship Year of 2012, we have intensified exchanges in many sectors including cultural, academic and economic field. The international conferences on Budhism, on Tagore, and Cham civilisational linkages in Vietnam held during the year have greatly enriched our understanding with each other and our interaction since times immemorial. We were privileged to receive several Vietnamese troupes in India including one that is performing this evening. The opening of an Indian Cultural Centre in Vietnam we hope will enhance this important cultural dimension of our relationship.

We thank His Excellency for his visit and look forward to working together to further strengthen our strategic partnership. Thank you very much.

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

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Vu Van Ninh): Ladies and gentlemen, at the invitation of the Indian Government I and my Delegation have come on an official visit to India this time on the occasion of the closing ceremony of the Vietnam-India Friendship Year. And I have had very useful and productive exchange with His Excellency the Minister.

Vietnam and India have enjoyed a very traditional long-term friendship over forty years of diplomatic relations. In the past five years we have established strategic partnership. And I am very happy at the results that we have recorded in the last five years.

We have promoted cooperation between the two countries in all different fields from politics to diplomacy, to national security and defence, to education and training, science and technology, and healthcare. We are very happy at the very successful organization of the very practical and meaningful activities to commemorate the Friendship Year over the past year.

We have agreed on increase of exchange of delegations, implementation of signed agreements between the two countries, and maintenance of different cooperation mechanisms such as the Joint Commission on Trade, the agreement on transfer of sentenced persons, the signing of the supplement aviation agreement between the two countries and the opening of direct flight routes between Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city with New Delhi, the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement between the two Ministries, and also other cooperation in terms of national defence and security, culture, education and people-to-people exchange.

We are determined to realize the goal of US$ 7 billion trade turnover by 2015. We have agreed to actively promote the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Vietnam at the invitation of the Vietnamese Prime Minister. India has also agreed to provide more flexible credit lines to Vietnam in terms of infrastructure and national security.

We are committed to continue to cooperate closely at international and regional forums. Especially we are committed to maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, freedom of navigation over the seas, and also access to resources in the East Sea of Vietnam. We are committed to avoiding violence or threatening to use violence in resolution of disputes in the sea. We would want to have peaceful negotiations based on international law especially the 1982 UNCLOS, the six-point principle of ASEAN, the …(Inaudible)… construction at the sea …(Inaudible)… in the South China Sea.

We would like to thank you the Government and the people of India and also the Minister personally for the warm hospitality accorded to me and my Delegation. We would hope to have very productive and positive results of our discussions today in the future. And also allow me to wish India sustainable development in the future for prosperous people.

Allow me to also finally conclude with an invitation to Indian companies to continue to invest and enter into Vietnam. We would hope and are committed to providing and assuring the legitimate rights and interests of foreign companies operating in Vietnam.Thank you very much.

Official Spokesperson: The two Ministers have agreed to take a few questions.

Question (Vietnamese Media) …..Vietnam and India have a very long and close relationship. What do you think is the most important…(Inaudible)…

External Affairs Minister: Frankly, I think that is a very difficult question because we have discussed so many vast fields - economic, strategic and cultural; and I think each one has a very very important and significant role to play. But basically I think it is important that we continue with our people-to-people contact in a major way. We have a shared culture, we have a shared history, and we need to get new generations to discover that. It is very important that the new generations in Vietnam and in India discover what our great leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ho Chi Minh had seen as a very special relationship both for the present and the future.

Question (Indian Media): Sir, my question is on a different issue. Today the High Commissioner of Pakistan Salman Bashir was summoned to Ministry of External Affairs over the gruesome killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistani soldiers. This was not a routine ceasefire violation. They had stepped inside our territory; they beheaded one soldier and took away the head. What kind of protest has been launched? Have you also demanded at least the immediate handing over of the head for the honourable funeral of the soldier that he deserves? Could we also take up this particular issue at the International Court or the United Nations?

External Affairs Minister: As far as my information goes, he was spoken to this morning. He was called to the Ministry this morning and he was spoken to in very strong terms. We have conveyed our deepest concern and protest at what has happened. You know, we had the discussions on 27th of December on the conventional CBMs; and the non-violation of the Line of Control ceasefire is the most important part of those CBMs. Therefore, violation of that in itself is something which is a matter of great concern. That obviously, if not immediately contained, would have an adverse impact on what we have been trying to do for such a long time.

But the specific context that has come to our notice about the manner in which the soldiers’ bodies have been treated is of course a matter of very very deep concern, and indeed the sense of hurt that has been felt is taken on board. This has been conveyed as being unacceptable. We are doing the best that is possible. I expect that there will be some response from the other side. Our intent has been conveyed very clearly. Our anxiety has been conveyed very clearly. Now we would expect an appropriate response from that side. I can once again repeat that this is completely unacceptable.

At the same time, I think it is very important that we make sure that whatever has happened should not be escalated. We cannot and must not allow for an escalation of a very unwholesome event that has taken place. I hope that message has gone home.

Question (Indian Media): Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, Vietnam has some of the prettiest sights on the planet. But when I went there I had to change planes in Bangkok. It has got the kind of views which Indian tourists would like very much. As you know, every year 12 million Indian tourists go to all corners of the globe and spend something like US$ 25 billion. Fifteen months ago, Vietnam Airlines and Jet had signed an agreement for direct flights between Hanoi and New Delhi or Mumbai or wherever, but nothing has happened so far. When do you think these flights will start so that greater people-to-people action will take place?

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister: I would like to answer the question as follows. As the Minister has mentioned, there is huge potential for tourism development between the two countries. I do recognize that Vietnamese coming to India and Indians coming to Vietnam right now are very limited and that is why we need to promote it. We have talked about measures this morning with the Minister, and this morning in my meeting with the Vietnam-India Friendship Association also I mentioned this fact. We would want to have promotion of people-to-people exchange between the two countries especially …(Inaudible)… opening of direct flight routes between Hanoi and New Delhi or Ho Chi Minh city and New Delhi. We are committed to promoting people-to-people exchange. As Vietnam Airlines is a hundred per cent state-owned enterprise, we can and are committed to promotion of people-to-people exchange very soon in the near future.

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

New Delhi
January 9, 2012


For the video of this media interaction, please visit:
Visit of Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam- Joint Media Interaction-Part 1 of 2
Visit of Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam- Joint Media Interaction-Part 2 of 2

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