In a significant development, India and influential East Asian nation Vietnam on Friday signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that it will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
The two countries also signed three other agreements— to enhance aviation links, to jointly work in the area of energy efficiency and promotion of parliamentary cooperation.
The four pacts, aimed at boosting the relations, were signed here in presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and visiting President of Vietnam’s National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan after their talks on enhancing the ties.
Ngan, who is leading a Vietnamese Parliamentary delegation, also met the Prime Minister who said the Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy “will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam.”
Modi recalled his earlier meeting with Ngan in Hanoi during his visit to Vietnam in September. He said that Ngan, as the first woman to head the National Assembly of Vietnam, is a source of inspiration to women across the world.
Modi welcomed increased Parliamentary interactions between India and Vietnam, and called for instituting an exchange programme for young parliamentarians of the two countries.
Cooperation Agreement between the Lok Sabha of the Republic of India and the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The civil nuclear agreement with Vietnam, an influential East Asian nation, comes close on the heels of India signing a similar pact with Japan. Vietnam is the 14th country with which India signed the civil nuclear deal.
From the Indian side, the MoU on civil nuclear cooperation was signed by Sekhar Basu, Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy, while Pham Cong Tac, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, signed it from the Vietnamese side.
The two countries had earlier in 1986 signed a pact in the civil nuclear field which was limited to training. However, the new agreement is broadbased and encompasses research on nuclear reactors, sources said.
The cooperation in research on nuclear reactors will get activated once India gets membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, they added.
An MoU on ‘Promotion of traffic between Vietnam and India and sharing of best practices in airline operation, ground handling procedure and management’ was also signed between Air India and Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Company.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a PSU under the Power Ministry, and Vietnam Electricity (EVN) signed an MoU on ‘Developing a Partnership to Jointly Work in the Area of Energy Efficiency’.
It was signed by Satish C Mehta, Senior Advisor in EESL, and Duong Quang Thanh, Chairman of Vietnam Electricity.
Mahajan said the Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy is a “remarkable development” and a “testimony to two countries’ willingness to give greater substance to their recently upgraded Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.”
The Speaker pitched for enhanced engagement between the two countries and specified sectors like defence, security, energy, exploration, non conventional energy as some of the key areas of mutual benefit. “India and Vietnam can mutually benefit from each others strength,” she said.
Referring to South China Sea over which China is laying an absolute claim and is in confrontation with Vietnam and some other East Asian countries, Mahajan said India has persistently maintained that sea lanes of communication passing through that maritime area are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development.
She recalled India’s statement following the recent award of Arbitral Tribunal on South China Sea issue and reiterated its known position for resolving disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and by exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability.
“As a State Party to the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), India has called on all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans,” Mahajan said.