Nov 20 2013, 11:20am CST | by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 20 — India and Vietnam Wednesday inked eight agreements, including one for oil and gas exploration in the seas off Vietnam that includes the South China Sea as visiting Vietnamese leader Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks here.
Nguyen Phu Trong is the general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
The eight agreements as well as a $100-million line of credit to Vietnam for defence purchases is a major step forward in India's "Look East Policy".
Manmohan Singh "reaffirmed that Vietnam was a pillar of India's 'Look East Policy', which was supported by the general secretary. They envisaged a more active role for India in the regional and international arena," a joint statement said.
Outlining their strong convergence of interests in working together, Manmohan Singh said: "Vietnam's emergence as one of the most vibrant economies in the Asia Pacific region is greatly welcomed by India, especially because we regard Vietnam as a trusted and privileged strategic partner and an important pillar of our Look East Policy."
Boosting connectivity, both sides inked an air services agreement that would see direct flights between the two countries and also promote an international aviation system based on competition.
The MoU between Vietnam Oil and Gas Group and ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) provides for joint exploration, development and production of petroleum resources between the two countries for new investments by OVL in oil and gas blocks in Vietnam for oil and gas exploration and production.
Petro Vietnam is also to participate in open blocks in India and in third countries.
"The project is to be operated through a BOT Company owned by TATA Power and additional investors, with TATA Power as the lead member and will reach commercial operation in accordance with Agreements with the Vietnam side," the statement said.
Tata Power Co. Ltd won a $1.8-billion contract to develop the thermal power plant in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Tran after beating competition from South Korea and Russia to win the 1,200 MW contract.
A Vietnam-India English and IT Training Centre at the National Defence Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi will also be set up.
Both sides are on course to achieve the trade target of $7 billion by 2015.
A new Joint Sub-Commission on Trade has been tasked to work towards realizing the enormous potential of our economic relations, said the prime minister.
Manmohan Singh expressed appreciation for Vietnam's decision to award Tata Power the thermal power project and the offer of another offshore block to ONGC Videsh Limited for continued oil and gas exploration.
The Archaeological Survey of India has also voiced readiness to take up conservation and restoration of the Cham monuments "which are a symbol of our historical, civilizational and cultural contacts".
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