Thursday, September 29, 2022

India Vietnam second security dialogue: Focus on peace and security in the Indo-Pacific

 A Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lt. General Luong Tam Quang visited India for the Second Security Dialogue and held discussions on the security issues comprehensively with his Indian counterpart. The mechanism for the Security Dialogue between the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam and the National Security Council Secretariat of India was established in 2016 when the relationship was elevated to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The First Security Dialogue was held in Hanoi, which was attended by the Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. This time the Indian side was led by Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri. The visiting Deputy Minister of Vietnam also met the NSA and the Foreign Secretary.

This mechanism is crucial in determining the priorities of both the countries on regional and international affairs and to review the progress on decisions taken by political leaders of India and Vietnam. Indian and Vietnamese leaders are meeting frequently and pace did not slow down even during the pandemic. Indian PM Modi and the then Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc co-chaired a virtual summit in December 2020 and issued the India-Vietnam Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People containing the guidelines for future development of India – Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The significance of this document lies in the fact that it serves as the cornerstone for a new era of India – Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. In addition, seven agreements were inked that included one on implementing arrangements on defence industry cooperation and another on nuclear cooperation between India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety.
The Summit spelt out seven steps to further strengthen the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries that inter alia covered defence and security partnership with the aim of maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region, maintenance of peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and the need to ensure that negotiations of the Code of Conduct (CoC) should not prejudice the interests of other countries in the region. Both the PMs also agreed to intensify efforts to promote partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, including the shared focus on ASEAN-centrality as also to foster practical cooperation between ASEAN and India in the key areas and in line with the objectives and principles as stated in the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
Subsequently in 2021, PM Modi spoke with the current PM Pham Minh Chinh and noted that the Indo-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership can contribute to promoting regional stability as both the countries share a similar vision of an open, inclusive, peaceful and ruled based Indian Ocean region. In April 2022 to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the establishment between the two countries, PM Modi held a telephone call with H E Nguyen Phu Trong General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. During the call PM Modi emphasised Vietnam’s stature as a pillar of India’s Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific Vision and desired to broaden the scope of the bilateral ties.
This year also saw two important delegations from India visiting Vietnam. In April, Sri Om Biral Speaker of Lok Sabha led a delegation of law-makers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. During the visit, his Vietnamese counterpart Mr Hue spelled-out an action plan for further cooperation between the citizen representatives of the two countries.
This was followed by the visit of the Indian Defence Minister Sri Rajnath Singh in June, during which three important decisions were taken. First, India and Vietnam signed a Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030, “which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation”. Second, the Indian and Vietnam Defence Minsters agreed on the early finalisation of the $500 million Defence Line of Credit extended to Vietnam and the “implementation of the projects shall add substantially to Vietnam’s Defence capabilities” and will also push the Indian government’s vision of “make in India, make for the world’. Third, India and Vietnam also inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Logistics Support. Sri Singh visited Vietnam’s military training facilities and handed over twelve high-speed patrol boats to the Vietnamese naval fleet that was built with a $100 million line of credit and technical assistance from India, and is expected to be soon deployed along the South China Sea coast.
The Second Security Dialogue between the Public Security Ministry of Vietnam and the national Security Council Secretariat took place in the backdrop of above interactions and decisions. In this meeting the two sides reiterated their commitment for peace and security in the region. The Vietnamese delegation appreciated the Indian role in shaping the Indo-Pacific architecture. The Indian side stressed the need for implementation of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI). This was earlier suggested by PM Modi as the action plan for achieving the objective of Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific (FOIP) that has seven pillars. This has similarity with the ASEAN Outlook of Indo-Pacific (AOIP). Vietnam has played an important role in the formulation AOIP.
In this security dialogue, the focus was on three aspects. First, Indian side emphasised the need for freedom of navigation and over-flights and unimpeded trade in national waters in accordance with international laws (UNCLOS). Second, the need to ensure that the proposed CoC should be fully consistent with the relevant UN convention and the negotiations should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not a party to the discussions. It may be mentioned here, that Taiwan, which has claims in the SCS, is not the party to the CoC negotiations.
Third, the two sides discussed the ways to combat terrorism and worked out the plan to cooperate to deal with the growing nexus of radicalism, terrorism and trafficking of narcotics and arms.
Both the countries have joined the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and are collaborating on number of critical issues including cyber security. India is also assisting Vietnam in capacity building in the defence sector. The Security Dialogue between the Ministry of Public Security and the National Security Council Secretariat constitutes an important process for frankly discussing the issues to work out plans for cooperation based on pragmatism. India looks at ties with Vietnam with a long-term and strategic perspective, and firmly believes that cooperation between the two countries can substantially contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the region.



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