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Vietnam opposes military alliances in region: envoy

Vietnamese ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau presents his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on November 13, 2018.

Vietnamese ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau presents his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on November 13, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Nation’s stand on Quad ‘ambivalent’, says Ambassador Chau

Vietnam has an “ambivalent” position on the Quad grouping comprising India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S., Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau said on Thursday. Elaborating, he said while Vietnam welcomed any country’s initiative to preserve freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, it was opposed to any military alliance that could undermine regional peace and security.

Sounding an “ambivalent” note on the Quad grouping between India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S., Vietnam Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau said on Thursday that they welcome any initiative by any country to preserve freedom of navigation and over flight in the region but do not want any military alliance that is not conducive for peace and security.

Differences in Singapore

The Vietnamese Ambassador’s comments came even as officials from the Quad grouping met in Singapore on Thursday. In a sign that the four countries continued to have differences on the objectives of the grouping, each of the four sides issued separate statements.

“If any country wants to gang up, use force or trying to use force, then it goes against the position of Vietnam,” Mr. Chau, who just assumed charge in New Delhi, said in response to questions on the Quad. The Ambassador added that Vietnam did not want the region to become a “theatre” for power play by major powers.

“We will not join any alliance in order to fight any third country,” he asserted.

According to a release from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Delhi, the Quad countries agreed to “strengthening connectivity and quality infrastructure” in the region according to principles of sovereignty and economic viability. While India and Japan are already cooperating on a number of projects in South Asia, which are seen as a counter to projects China is planning under the Belt and Road Initiative, there are as yet no ‘Quad’ level projects.

“They agreed to partner with other countries and forums in the region to promote a free, open, rules-based and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific that fosters trust and confidence,” the MEA said in the statement. That suggests that the Quadrilateral would not be an exclusive grouping on maritime security in the region, with the ministry stressing “ASEAN centrality as the cornerstone of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

Kovind to address assembly

Briefing the media on President Ramnath Kovind’s upcoming visit to Vietnam, from November 18 to 20, Mr. Chau said the President would address the Vietnamese national assembly. “He is only the second foreign head of state ever to address the assembly,” he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first foreign leader to do so.

Priorities

Mr. Chau said his major priorities in India would include helping establish a direct flight between the two countries, bringing Vietnam’s national television service to New Delhi, and clearing hurdles to improved bilateral trade especially in certain fruits.

Observing that the Vietnamese media and Indian media were yet to provide a better understanding of the people of India and Vietnam, Mr. Chau said he hoped to introduce Vietnam Television to New Delhi.

“Right now we buy news from western media, which is very biased,” Mr. Chau said, adding that they did not talk about the diversity in India, the country’s development, and its middle power status.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 9:20:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vietnam-opposes-military-alliances-in-region-envoy/article25509702.ece

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