India, Vietnam reaffirms importance of maintaining peace, navigational freedom in SCS

ANI
·5-min read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc

New Delhi [India], December 22 (ANI): Reaffirming the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, India and Vietnam on Monday underscored the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants of the sea and all other states.

The two countries held a virtual summit on Monday led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Vietnam counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc. During the summit, they exchanged view on wide-ranging bilateral, regional and global issues and set forth the following Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People to guide the future development of India - Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, according to a joint vision adopted during the summit.

"Underlining the link between prosperity and security, the leaders reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, while pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), without resorting to threat or use of force," the joint vision noted.

"Both leaders underscored the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, and avoidance of actions that could further complicate the situation or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability. Both leaders emphasized the legal framework set out by the UNCLOS within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and that UNCLOS is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests over maritime zones," it further read.

Both leaders further called for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in accordance with international law, especially UNCLOS, that does not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of all nations including those not party to these negotiations.

Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea. China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.

China claims much of the South China Sea, but there are also overlapping claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. China has built bases and other outposts on shoals, reefs and rock outcroppings to deepen its claim over 80 per cent of the 3.6 sq km waterway, with Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan claim parts of the same area.

Recognizing the threat emanating from terrorism, violent extremism and radicalism to world peace and humanity, the two leaders resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism, terror financing networks and safe havens, will be put into action through greater coordination in bilateral, regional and global efforts. The two sides will step up joint efforts in building a strong consensus for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

During the summit, India and Vietnam signed 7 memoranda of understandings/ Agreement including on USD 5 million Indian Grant Assistance for Army Software Park at National Telecommunications University, Nha Trang and defence.

Emphasizing the deep cultural and historical bonds between India and Vietnam, the two sides will commemorate and promote understanding and research of their shared cultural and civilizational heritage, including Buddhist and Cham cultures, traditions and ancient scriptures, according to joint vision.

Recognizing the strength and support their relationship derives from the mutually friendly sentiments of peoples of the two countries, the two sides will intensify efforts to promote closer people-to-people exchanges by increasing direct flights, providing ease of travelling through simplified visa procedures and facilitating tourism.

According to the vision, they will further strengthen and institutionalize linkages such as Parliamentary exchanges; relations between the Indian States and Vietnamese Provinces; exchanges between political parties, social organisations, friendship groups and youth organizations; a collaboration between educational and academic institutions; engagement between think tanks; joint research programmes; educational scholarships; and exchanges in media, film, TV shows and sports.

They will also facilitate cooperation between respective agencies on the two sides to promote contents related to India - Vietnam relations and their historical links in each other's school textbooks.

Recognizing the important role of their cooperation amidst the emerging geopolitical and geoeconomic landscape in the region and beyond, PM Modi and Nguyen agreed that enhanced defence and security partnership between India and Vietnam will be an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

"To this end, the two sides will step up their military-to-military exchanges, training and capacity building programmes across the three services and coast guards and will intensify their defence industry collaboration building on India's defence credit lines extended to Vietnam," the vision read.

"They will further institutionalize defence exchanges through mutual logistics support, regular ship visits, joint exercises, exchanges in military Science & Technology, information sharing, and cooperation in UN peacekeeping. Both sides will engage more closely through institutionalized dialogue mechanisms in dealing with traditional and non-traditional security threats in cyber and maritime domains, terrorism, natural disasters, health security, water security, transnational crimes etc, including through enhanced legal and judicial cooperation, where required," it added. (ANI)