PM of­fers Viet­nam $500-m credit line

The Financial Express - - FRONT PAGE -

PRIME Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi of­fered Viet­nam a credit line on Satur­day of half a bil­lion dol­lars for de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, giv­ing a lift to a coun­try rapidly purs­ing a mil­i­tary de­ter­rent as dis­cord fes­ters in the South China Sea, re­ports Reuters. The deal was among a dozen co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments Modi signed in Hanoi along­side his Viet­namese coun­ter­part, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, on the first visit to the coun­try by an In­dian prime min­is­ter in 15 years.

PRIME Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi of­fered Viet­nam a credit line on Satur­day of half a bil­lion dol­lars for de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, giv­ing a lift to a coun­try rapidly purs­ing a mil­i­tary de­ter­rent as dis­cord fes­ters in the South China Sea.

The deal was among a dozen co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments Modi signed in Hanoi along­side his Viet­namese coun­ter­part, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, on the first visit to the coun­try by an In­dian prime min­is­ter in 15 years.

In­dia and Viet­nam share bor­ders and large trade vol­umes with China and have re­peat­edly locked horns with Bei­jing, over the ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes in the Hi­malayas and the South China Sea, re­spec­tively.Bothare­al­sobeef­ing-up of theird­e­fence­sand­inIn­dia's case, its de­fence in­dus­try, pro­mot­ing heav­ily its su­per­sonic BrahMos mis­sile. In­dia is keen to sell the mis­sile to Viet­nam and four other coun­tries, as per a gov­ern­ment note seen by Reuters in June. It was un­clear if the lat­est loan in­cluded the $100 mil­lion In­dia had pre­vi­ously made avail­able to Viet­nam for four yet-to-be­built pa­trol ves­sels in a deal agreed in late 2014.

In an ad­dress to me­dia, Modi said the credit was for “fa­cil­i­tat­ing mu­tual de­fence co­op­er­a­tion” and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries would “con­trib­ute to sta­bil­ity, se­cu­ri­ties and pros­per­ity in this re­gion”.

Modi, who was en-route to a G20 Sum­mit in China, made no men­tion of the pa­trol ves­sels, nor BrahMos mis­siles, and did not elab­o­rate on what Viet­nam would use the $500 mil­lion credit for.

The of­fer comes af­ter a surge of al­most 700% in Viet­nam's de­fence pro­cure­ments as of 2015, as per the Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute think-tank, which tracks the arm trade over five-year pe­ri­ods.

Viet­nam is in the midst of a quiet mil­i­tary buildup an­a­lysts say is de­signed as a de­ter­rent, to se­cure its 200 nau­ti­cal mile Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone as China grows more as­sertive in stak­ing its claims in the South China Sea.

Ex­perts say Viet­nam is in the mar­ket for fighter jets and more ad­vanced mis­sile sys­tems, in ad­di­tion to its six kilo-class sub­marines it has bought from Rus­sia, the last of which it will re­ceive late this year.

The 12 agree­ments signed on Satur­day cov­ered ar­eas like health, cy­ber se­cu­rity, ship-build­ing, UN peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions and naval in­for ma­tion shar­ing.

Both lead­ers said ties would be up­graded to the level of “com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic re­la­tion­ship” and bi­lat­eral trade would be al­most dou­bled to $15 bil­lion by 2020.

Reuters

PTI

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi on Satur­day

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