External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will begin a four-day tour of Vietnam and Cambodia on Monday, with an aim to deepen India’s strategic cooperation with the two key nations in the ASEAN region.
“The External Affairs Minister’s visit to Vietnam and Cambodia will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues, and advance our strategic engagement with these countries and the ASEAN region,” the Ministry said. In Vietnam, Ms. Swaraj will co-chair the 16th meeting of the Joint Commission, along with the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
In her first official visit to Cambodia, Ms. Swaraj will hold extensive talks with her counterpart Prak Sokhonn, covering the entire expanse of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interests. It will be her first official visit to Cambodia.
She will call on Prime Minister Hun Sen and President of the Senate Say Chhum.
India’s ties are on an upswing with both Vietnam and Cambodia. the two major countries in the powerful ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) grouping.
India has been particularly scaling up its cooperation with Vietnam in areas of maritime security and energy.
During Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang’s visit to New Delhi in March, both the sides had vowed to join hands for an open and thriving Indo-Pacific, besides ensuring an efficient and rules-based regional security architecture.
Vietnam and several other ASEAN member countries have territorial disputes with China over the resource-rich South China Sea.
China has been opposing India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) exploring oil in areas claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea (SCS). India has been asserting that the ONGC’s exploration is a commercial operation and not connected with the dispute. Oil exploration in the SCS is a sensitive issue in the Vietnam-China relations.