Focus on peace and security in the Indo-Pacific

A Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Minister of Public Security Lt. Gen. Luong Tam Quang visited India for the second security dialogue and held in-depth discussions on security issues with his Indian counterpart . The security dialogue mechanism between Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security and India’s National Security Council Secretariat was established in 2016 when the relationship was upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The first security dialogue was held in Hanoi, in the presence of Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval. This time, the Indian side was led by Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri. The visiting Vietnamese vice minister also met with the NSA and the foreign minister.

This mechanism is crucial for determining countries’ priorities on regional and international affairs and for reviewing the progress of decisions made by the political leaders of India and Vietnam. Indian and Vietnamese leaders meet frequently and the pace has not slowed even during the pandemic. Indian Prime Minister Modi and then Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc co-chaired a virtual summit in December 2020 and released the Joint India-Vietnam Vision for Peace, Prosperity and the People containing the guidelines for the future development of India-Vietnam comprehensive strategic partnership. The significance of this document is that it serves as the cornerstone for a new era of comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam. In addition, seven agreements were signed, including one on the implementation of arrangements on defense industry cooperation and another on nuclear cooperation between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India and the Vietnam Agency for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety.

The summit set out seven steps to further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, which notably covered defense and security partnership with the aim of maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region, maintaining peace, stability , safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and the need to ensure that the Code of Conduct (CoC) negotiations do not harm the interests of other countries in the region. The two prime ministers also agreed to intensify efforts to promote partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, including shared emphasis on the centrality of ASEAN, as well as to foster practical cooperation between ASEAN and the world. India in the key areas and in accordance with the stated objectives and principles. in ASEAN Perspectives on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).

Subsequently, in 2021, Prime Minister Modi held talks with current Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and noted that the Indo-Vietnamese Comprehensive Strategic Partnership can help promote regional stability as the two countries share a common vision. similar to an open, inclusive, peaceful and governed Indian Ocean. Region. In April 2022, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of establishment between the two countries, Prime Minister Modi had a phone call with HE Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. During the call, Prime Minister Modi underscored Vietnam’s stature as a pillar of India’s Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific vision and wished to expand the scope of bilateral relations.

This year, two important Indian delegations also visited Vietnam. In April, Sri Om Biral, chairman of Lok Sabha, led a delegation of lawmakers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. During the visit, his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr. Hue, defined an action plan for further cooperation between the representatives of the citizens of the two countries.

This was followed by the visit of Indian Defense Minister Sri Rajnath Singh in June, during which three important decisions were taken. First, India and Vietnam signed a Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defense Partnership 2030, “which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defense cooperation.” Secondly, the Indian and Vietnamese defense ministers agreed to expeditiously finalize the $500 million defense line of credit granted to Vietnam and to “implement projects that will significantly add to the capabilities of defense of Vietnam” and will also push the Indian government’s vision of “do in India, do for the world”. Thirdly, India and Vietnam have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on mutual logistic support. Sri Singh visited Vietnam’s military training facilities and handed over twelve high-speed patrol boats to the Vietnamese naval fleet which was built with a $100 million line of credit and technical assistance from India, and is expected to be deployed soon on along the coast of the South China Sea.

The Second Security Dialogue between Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security and the National Security Council Secretariat took place against the background of the above interactions and decisions. During this meeting, the two parties reiterated their commitment to peace and security in the region. The Vietnamese delegation appreciated the Indian role in shaping Indo-Pacific architecture. The Indian side stressed the need to implement the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI). This was suggested earlier by Prime Minister Modi as an action plan to achieve the goal of a Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific (FOIP) which is based on seven pillars. This has similarities with the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). Vietnam played an important role in the formulation of the AOIP.

In this security dialogue, emphasis has been placed on three aspects. First, the Indian side stressed the need for freedom of navigation and overflight and unhindered trade in national waters in accordance with international laws (UNCLOS). Second, the need to ensure that the proposed CoC fully complies with the relevant UN convention and that the negotiations do not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not parties to the discussions. It can be mentioned here that Taiwan, which has claims in the SCS, is not a party to the CoC negotiations.

Third, the two sides discussed ways to fight terrorism and developed a cooperation plan to address the growing link between radicalism, terrorism and drug and arms trafficking.

The two countries have joined the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and are collaborating on a number of critical issues, including cybersecurity. India is also helping Vietnam to build its capacity in the defense sector. The Security Dialogue between the Ministry of Public Security and the Secretariat of the National Security Council is an important process for frankly discussing issues with a view to developing cooperation plans based on pragmatism. India views its relations with Vietnam from a long-term strategic perspective and firmly believes that cooperation between the two countries can substantially contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the region.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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