India and Vietnam on Wednesday decided to tone up their defence-related engagement, with New Delhi agreeing to carry forward its assistance to Hanoi in its ongoing military modernisation.
Bilateral cooperation in several fields, including the training of military personnel, was discussed, from a broad political perspective, by Defence Minister A. K. Antony and his Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi.
Antony meets Vietnam PM
Mr. Antony later called on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during the course of an official visit that followed Tuesday's conference of Asia-Pacific Defence Ministers in Hanoi.
India and Vietnam had signed a defence cooperation memorandum in November 2009, and Tuesday's discussions in Hanoi are understood to have centred on the modalities of intensifying the implementation of the ongoing programmes under that agreement.
Both countries expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far. No specifics were spelt out by either side. However, close bilateral cooperation in the fields of defence-related information technology and English-language skills was seen as a promising possibility. It was not immediately clear whether the model of India's cooperation with Indonesia in the defence-related IT sector would apply to Vietnam as well.
There was no authoritative word on whether Vietnam would, like Malaysia, seek to capitalise on India's expertise in the training of pilots for Russian-made combat aircraft.
Growing links with ASEAN
The talks between Mr. Antony and the Vietnamese Prime Minister covered regional and international issues of common interest in the context of India's ongoing participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS) process and New Delhi's growing links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and India's Ambassador Ranjit Rae assisted Mr. Antony in his talks with the Vietnamese leaders.
Manmohan to visit Hanoi
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Hanoi later this month for the India-ASEAN summit and the EAS meeting, both being hosted by Vietnam.