|Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee
Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee spoke to Vietnam News Agency before visiting the country
The warm friendship between Viet Nam and India founded by President Ho Chi Minh and India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru has been fostered by successive generations of leaders and people of both countries. How do you assess relations between two countries today?
Bilateral relations are excellent. They have never been better. Our strategic partnership, established in 2007, is now entering its eighth year. In recent years, our relations have witnessed a continuous broadening and deepening in all aspects. They have been marked by strong mutual trust, understanding, support and a convergence of views on regional and international issues.
The foundation of the friendship laid by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ho Chi Minh has flourished and brought us to a high point today. In India, we have great admiration for the Vietnamese people, their fortitude, courage and for their determination to succeed against odds.
I am confident that our mutual goodwill can be translated into further mutually beneficial co-operation, as there is immense potential for the future. Moreover, our partnership is also beneficial to ASEAN and the region beyond.
During my visit to Viet Nam, I look forward to strengthening this partnership through discussions with my counterpart, President Truong Tan Sang and other Vietnamese leaders.
In 2007, we decided to elevate our relations to a strategic partnership through closer co-operation, first in politics, defence and security; second in economics; third in science and technology; fourth in cultural and technical co-operation; and fifth. in multilaterally and regionally. We have made tremendous progress in all these areas of engagement since 2007.
Political, defence and security links are one of the major pillars of our co-operation. We are of the view that there is much more potential that can be realised in this area. Both sides are working towards this, along with our regional partners.
In economic co-operation, we have made a lot of progress. Our trade volume has increased almost three and a half times since 2007. We are well on track to meet our trade targets. The prospects for investment co-operation are also bright.
More and more Indian companies are now looking at Viet Nam for doing business. There is a great interest among businessmen for future co-operation and I am confident that with efforts on both sides, we will be able to increase trade and investment levels several fold in the years to come.
In science and technology, there has been good progress, but much more can be done. We have active co-operation in agriculture, health, pharmaceuticals and other sectors.
We are co-operating in advanced areas, such as the use of nuclear and space co-operation for civilian purposes. I am confident that these will be strengthened in the coming years.
In cultural and technical co-operation, I am happy to note that Viet Nam is one of the largest recipients of India's Technical and Economic Co-operation Programme (ITEC).We are expanding our education links through the Connect to India programme. Our historical and civilisational links include a strong Buddhist bond between our peoples and countries.
There is, however, an information gap among the younger generations. To close this, I understand that both sides are working on increased youth and cultural exchanges, including cultural content, films and television programmes.
I am also happy to note that direct flight services between our two countries will start shortly. This will give a major boost to increased business, tourism and people-to-people contacts. India and Viet Nam have a convergence of views and strong co-operation at all regional and international forums.There is strong mutual support and understanding.
How do you appreciate the role of Viet Nam in ASEAN and in India's "Look East" policy?
We consider Viet Nam an important pillar in our Look East Policy. The nation has been a strategic partner for India, both within ASEAN and in the wider region. We deeply appreciate Viet Nam's support for India at all regional and international forums and look forward to further deepening this aspect. With ASEAN integration acquiring momentum, we have deepened our regional interaction, stepped up initiatives to promote connectivity and expanded people-to-people links to enhance our role in the new era. I see India and Viet Nam as partners, contributing to peace, prosperity and stability in the wider region. — VNS