India and Vietnam agreed in Hanoi on Tuesday to strengthen their defence cooperation.
The modalities of implementing the 2009 memorandum of understanding in this domain were discussed by Vietnam's National Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh and Indian Army Chief General V. K. Singh. India's Ambassador to Vietnam, Ranjit Rae, and defence officials were present at the talks.
Gen. Singh, marking the first visit to Vietnam by an Indian Army Chief in over a decade, also met his counterpart there, Deputy Chief of General Staff Pham Hong Loi, for talks on follow-up action. Two areas spotted for immediate cooperation were training of military personnel and dialogue between experts on strategic affairs on both sides.
The National Defence Academy and the Strategic Institute in Hanoi played host to Gen. Singh, who will travel to Ho Chi Minh City for similar interactions at the provincial level before concluding his visit on Thursday.
Defence Minister A. K. Antony is expected to visit Vietnam in October to participate in the first-ever regional meeting of political leaders in the defence field. Vietnam, now chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has invited India to the Asean+8 Defence Ministers meeting. The 10-member Asean will be joined by Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.
The Asean, as the prime mover of this process, has also initiated efforts to convert such a grouping of countries into an expanded East Asia Summit. The Summit, an organisation as different from just a conference, does not include the U.S. and Russia at present.