Visits Visits

Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (East) in Hanoi on the ongoing visit of the President (15 September, 2014)

September 16, 2014

Press Secretary to President (Shri Venu Rajamony): Good evening friends. I welcome you all to today’s press briefing. Since the time is short, I will straightaway ask Secretary to brief you and then Ambassador will follow up with whatever additions she wants to make in case of need. And then if there are questions, we will quickly take them.

Secretary (East) (Shri Anil Wadhwa): Thank you, Venu.

We will have to do this real quickly, so I will quickly round up the day’s events and also the main points for you.

First of all, the President of Vietnam devoted a lot of time to this visit. Besides the tete-e-tete in the morning which was followed by delegation-level talks, he was also present in the afternoon at the address where you were all present. Of course, now he is going to devote some time for the banquet which denotes the special importance that the leadership of Vietnam has attached to this visit.

President during this visit has met the entire gamut of the Vietnamese leadership, the Four Corners as they call it which includes the President, thePrime Minister, Chairman of the National Assembly, and at the same time the Party General Secretary. All these are important for our bilateral relationship as you know.

We have now extended an invitation for the Prime Ministerof Vietnam to visit India. This visit will take place in October. Exact dates are being worked out through diplomatic channels which will be a follow-up of this highly successful visit as we see it of the President to Vietnam.

Starting now with some important subjects, first of all, in trade both sides agreed that it was not coincidental that the trade target of USD seven billion which was agreed earlier by 2014 has been surpassed already; and that the trade target of USD 15 billion by 2020 should easily be surpassed judging by the current trends in relationship between the two countries.

There was a general agreement to provide a fillip to bilateral investments from both sides. And the President thanked the Vietnamese side for providing a favourable climate for the investment in two thermal power plants by the Tata Group which will be one of the biggest investments that India has made in Vietnam. And he hoped that this will be a trendsetter for the future, and that similar investments from India will follow.

He also invited Vietnamese companies to come to India to invest in terms of bilateral trade and investment. Three or four specific areas were also identified which I could name for you. They are: pharmaceuticals, textiles, agricultural processing to name three focus areas, and the fourth one of course would be determined by the Vietnamese side when they take a business delegation along with thePrime Ministerto India, which is also a very distinctive development because so far we have concentrated a lot on the political side of the relationship but this time the focus is entirely going to be on the economic side of our relationship. That is not to say that other areas were not discussed.

We agreed that we will continue with the student exchanges. India offers 150 ITEC scholarships to Vietnam in addition to other scholarships. And the President conveyed that we will continue with these scholarships but at the same time we will make efforts whenever the time is ripe to enhance the number of these scholarships as well.

On science and technology and also in taking this relationship to a higher plane by making sure that we exchange more high-level delegations and also supplement them by delegation-level visits, official-level visits, and at the same time as the Vietnamese side put it by video conferencing, we should be able to keep up the momentum of this bilateral relationship.

It was also conveyed to us that the signing of the bilateral line of credit, defence line of credit agreement today, which is one of the seven MoUs – I believe the list is already with you – is an important development in terms of enhancing Vietnam’s security; and also the fact that this will enable Vietnam to look at India more closely in the defence field. You already know that Vietnam is looking to procure patrol vessels from India for this purpose.

In terms of the other agreements which are signed, all of them have their special significance because ourpeople-to-peopleexchanges need to be stepped up. This was also discussed during the visit of ourExternal Affairs Ministerlast month to Vietnam where she laid stress on increasing tourism, and how to increase tourism is by making sure that there are MoUs in place for example in the audio-visual field which we will be working upon in the future. But at the same time, youth exchanges are extremely important and this MoU that has been signed today will give a further boost to that kind of an exchange so that the younger people, the younger generations of the two countries get to know each other better.

In all the meetings the common theme which was stressed was that Vietnam was thankful for the role which was played by India in terms of the support that Vietnam got in terms of its freedom struggle, and also the role that India has played in the reconstruction of Vietnam in modern day times and continues to do so, and this relationship definitely should be continued and enhanced as a strategic partnership which was determined in 2007 as a result of the MoU that we signed at that time.

There was a general desire to ensure that our focus areas which have continued in the past, like information technology, biotechnology, science and technology, etc., continue to remain important in this relationship. Education was also stressed in almost all the meetings by the entire leadership.

We also discussed exchange of parliamentary delegations. There is a Parliament Friendship Group which exists in the Vietnamese Parliament and once this kind of group is re-constituted in the new Parliament in India. And incidentally the President conveyed the greetings of the new government and our Prime Ministerto the entire leadership, and his desire to continue work closely with the Vietnamese Government.

Coming back to Parliamentary exchanges, it was agreed that these exchanges would continue and at the soonest opportunity parliamentary delegations will also be exchanged. The Speaker, the head of the National Assembly of Vietnam, expressed the desire to invite our Speaker to visit Vietnam with a delegation.

At the same time there was yet another common thread which was to make sure that our information exchange process is strengthened in the future. And that would include information exchange on the situation as a global situation, regional situation. In this context Vietnam stressed its desire that India should continue to play or play an enhanced role on the world stage as well as on the Asian stage as well as in the neighbourhood. And Vietnam expressed the hope that India will continue to grow in geopolitical importance in the future.

As regards the seven MoUs that have been signed today, as I said each one of them has its own significance. But there are still a few areas that we could not complete work upon during this visit and that is still a work in progress. One of them which we had mentioned before this visit was the cooperation on restoration of the Cham civilisation, and that would be a very important MoU between the two countries.

Today the Prime Minister stressed upon the fact that we must increase our tourism exchanges, and the Cham civilisation would result in enhanced tourism flows into Vietnam once the restoration takes place because of the unique nature of that civilisation, the historical linkage that India and Vietnam have which would be demonstrated by this particular project that we will undertake in the future.

Similarly, we will continue to talk about our lines of credit in the future, which was stressed upon by Vietnam because these have already happened. As you know, there have been 18 lines of credit in the past for USD 184 million worth, and that desire was expressed that India should continue to extend this cooperation to Vietnam in the future, something which was noted by the President for implementation at a later date.

One other point that was mentioned was that Vietnam will continue to provide favourable conditions for Indian investments in the future. And an appreciation was also extended for the high-speed computer that we have provided to Vietnam plus the fact that the projects that we have on the anvil will be completed soon. These relate to science and technology, these relate to vocational training centres, IT language centres, and similar training projects. It was also expressed that as far as defence side is concerned, our training cooperation with Vietnam would continue.

Vietnam is also delighted that there is a positive outcome of this particular visit as far as the President is concerned, and they expressed their satisfaction at the fact that we were able to conclude as many as seven important MoUs during this visit.

Now I would like to ask my colleagues if they want to fill in on something else.

Ambassador to Vietnam (Shrimati Preeti Saran):Secretary has just covered everything and we are running out of time.

Press Secretary to President: We have ten minutes or less for questions.

Question:What is the significance of the letter of intent between OVL and Petrovietnam?

Secretary (East): They have offered us two blocks for exploration. The letter of intent is basically to convey that we accept that with pleasure, and that we will evaluate the data in whatever is offered to us and on a later date we will sign something concrete.

QuestionWhere are these blocks?

Secretary (East): We will know them when they are offered to us in concrete terms.

Question:Are there any petrol vessels which Vietnam is looking at?

Secretary (East): Yes. That equipment is to be identified by them through talks between our Defence Ministries.

Question:President mentioned in speech about the highway which will connect Hanoi to Kolkata. Can you give us more details on this proposed project?

Secretary (East): That is a very concrete proposal which is on the table because as you know we are building the trilateral highway which will link our North-East through Myanmar into Thailand. We are also in talks with the ACCC in ASEAN which is a connectivity group that we are talking to, because ASEAN has its own connectivity plans. So the trilateral highway will plug into the ACCC connectivity plans, and the plan is to extend the trilateral highway all the way into Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Question:But my question is how Kolkata will be connected to the North-East ? Will this highway go through Bangladesh?

Secretary (East): Because at a later stage we will also have three tertiary roads which will go into India, and we also have a BIMSTEC project, as you know. There is a BTILS study which has just been released which talks about connectivity between the BIMSTEC countries. And India is also a part of a Kaladan Multimodal Transport System project which is also under completion. Once the BTILS study is implemented, there would be connectivity between Mizoram and Kolkata. That is what he is talking about.

Question:You mentioned about the President conveying the new government’s desire for more cooperation. Was there any specific message from Prime Minister Modi to the leadership here?

Secretary (East): The specific message was that the new government in India will continue to work very closely with Vietnam as we have been doing in the past, and to take this relationship even further.

Question:I wanted to know about the TATA Power investment that has happened. What is that about in terms of location?

Secretary (East):The TATA Power investment is for two 660 MW thermal power plants. There are two units. That is the investment which TATA will be in South Vietnam, the place calledSoctranj.

Question:I would like to clarify two issues. Right now as you said, is there any MoU signed for investments of Indians in Vietnam will be more justified or more will be helpful? What type of MoU has been signed with Vietnam?

Press Secretary to President: There are a lot of details which have been gone through.

Question:We are here for the last eight years and we are facing a lot of difficulties here.

Press Secretary to President: This is something you could separately discuss with the Secretary. Right now we are very short on time.

Question:I have one more question. Is there any MoU, a medical type of an agreement with Vietnam? I ask this because medically it is very very backward and still we are facing a lot of problems here.

Secretary (East): I think we can work on that in future, we can work on our cooperation MoU in the health sector. Today it was in the animal health sector but we have a lot which we have to do in the future. So, this was one of the subjects that we can easily tackle. And on the subject of investments that you raised, I think if you could convey this to Ambassador, then we could raise this in specific terms during the talks when the Prime Minister is there.

Press Secretary to President: Thank you everyone.



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