NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (L) meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Reporter: What do you think about the cooperation between the Vietnamese and Indian legislative bodies, after NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan’s official visit to India?

Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc: This was the second official visit to India by Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, but the first in her capacity as NA Chairwoman of Vietnam. Her first visit to India was in 2013 as Deputy NA Chairwoman.

The visit was important as it aimed to deepen the Vietnam-India relationship, and concretize the two countries’ Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which was upgraded during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vietnam in September this year. The visit helped enhance the multifaceted cooperation, especially in the buildup to the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties and the 10thanniversary of their Strategic Partnership next year. It also aimed to boost and deepen ties between the NA of Vietnam and the Indian legislative body, laying a firm foundation for the long-term stable relationship between the two countries, in line with Vietnam’s policy to integrate more deeply and broadly in the region and the world.

This visit resulted in the signing of the cooperation agreement between the two legislative bodies, creating a framework to step up their relationship in the time to come.

Over the past years, together with positive developments in Vietnam-India ties, the relationship between the two legislative bodies has been continuously consolidated so as to bolster the time-honored friendship and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and Vietnam.

The two sides have many times exchanged delegations of legislative bodies’ heads and heads of committees of the Vietnamese NA and Indian parliament. The NA of Vietnam has recently established a Vietnam-India Parliamentary Friendship Group, headed by Ha Ngoc Chien, Chairman of the NA’s Council for Ethnic Affairs.

Apart from cooperation in the bilateral parliamentary field, Vietnam's and India’s legislative delegations have supported their leadership’s standpoints on regional and international issues at international and regional inter-parliamentary forums, including the East Sea (internationally South China Sea) issue. Vietnam thanked the Indian parliament for their wholehearted support for the NA of Vietnam to host the Inter-Parliamentary Union's 132nd Assembly (IPU-132) and for sending a delegation of the Indian Parliament to Hanoi to participate in the IPU-132 held last March.

We believed that in the future, the two legislative bodies will increase their high-level visits and exchanges as well as at the levels of NA’s committees and agencies and the Vietnam-India parliamentary friendship groups, so as to seek further cooperation in law-making, observation and decision-making.

India is a big country with a long-lasting parliamentary democracy while the NA of Vietnam has recently experienced changes in organization and operation. On the basis of the two countries’ traditional friendship, history and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the two legislative bodies’ cooperation would develop more strongly in the coming time.

Reporter: Could you please elaborate on the relationship between Vietnam and India and their cooperative prospect in the future?

Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc: The Vietnam-India traditional friendship originated from the historical exchanges of culture, religions, and trade dated back 2,000 years ago. Relics of the Champa civilization in the My Son Sanctuary and the development of the Buddhism in Vietnam are the symbols of the cultural and religious exchanges between the two countries.

Importantly, Indian culture and civilization came to Vietnam by peaceful means, bringing along deep humane values that have lasted until today. As Indian Prime Minister N. Modi said to NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan on his visit to Vietnam on September 3  this year, the presence of foreign invaders who brought war to Vietnam no longer exists while Indian Buddhism and the thought of peace, humanity and human philosophy exist forever in Vietnam.

In the modern era, the Vietnam-India ties built by the two preeminent leaders, President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, have been nurtured by generations of the leaderships and people of the two countries, based on the sharing of great values of independence, freedom, equality and humanity. The two nations have wholeheartedly backed each other in the fight for national independence, national reconstruction, and the national renewal and socio-economic development cause.

The Vietnamese have always borne in mind the images of brotherly Indians taking to streets of Calcutta (present Kolkata) in early 1960s chanting “Amar Nam, Tomar Nam, Vietnam” (Our name, your name, Vietnam) to protest the then war in Vietnam.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was the first foreign leader to visit Hanoi in October 1954 right after the historic victory of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign. President Ho Chi Minh, on his visit to India in 1958, was welcomed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a great international revolutionary and a legendary national hero.

While Vietnam was under the embargo, India still stayed side by side with Vietnam, despite great pressures from other countries. This showed India’s loyal friendship, solidarity, support for and great assistance to Vietnam.

Prime Minister Pham Van Dong of Vietnam on his visit to India in 1980 stated that the Vietnam-India ties were as clear as the sky with no cloud. The value of this saying remains unchanged till today.

The NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan’s official visit to India opened up great opportunities for the two countries to boost their ties.

In terms of bilateral ties, the upgrading of the two countries’ ties to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in the Prime Minister N. Modi’s visit to Vietnam has created a strong driving force to promote their multifaceted cooperation.

The two countries have time-tested high political reliability and have shared mutual benefits. The regular exchanges of high-level visits and maintenance of cooperation mechanisms have boosted their comprehensive cooperation ranging from politics-foreign relations, security-defense, economy-trade to science-technology, education-training, culture and people-to-people exchange.

The potential of the bilateral economic-trade and investment cooperation is so huge that they should be tapped at the level to be on par with their fruitful political ties.

At present, India is among the ten leading trade partners of Vietnam. The annual two-way trade turnover has increased by 16 percent and reached more than USD 5 billion in 2015 (lower than India’s statistics of USD 7 billion). India is expected to be one of the ten biggest investors in Vietnam after Tata Group starts the USD 2 billion Long Phu Thermoelectric Plant 2 in Soc Trang province.

Notably, Vietnam and India have effectively cooperated in exploiting oil and gas in the continental shelf of Vietnam and actively conducted surveys on new oil and gas lots in Vietnam and in a third country.

Noteworthily, the defense-security cooperation is a strategic pillar in the two countries’ ties. Vietnam hails India for its preferential credit for Vietnam, especially the latest credit package of USD 500 million, to assist Vietnam in improving defense capability and for sharing experiences in UN peacekeeping operations.

Moreover, the two sides should boost cooperation on science-technology, education-training and culture.

During NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan’s official visit to India, the two sides signed a governmental-level cooperation agreement on using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, a memorandum of understanding between the Nuclear Power Institute of Vietnam and the Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership of India, an agreement on the opening of a non-stop air route linking Vietnam and India between VietJet Air and Air India.

India has also supported Vietnam in personnel training by granting about 150 scholarships a year to Vietnamese via the Indian Technique-Economic Cooperation, given technical assistance in computing and high technology to Vietnam.

The two countries’ tourism cooperation and people-to-people exchanges have been developing. Besides, the inauguration of the direct air routes between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Delhi next July will be a driving force to strengthen the two countries’ exchanges.

In regional and international aspects, Vietnam has consistently backed India’s “Look East” and present “Act East” policies and India’s higher role and status in the region and in the world as a whole. Vietnam hails India’s declaration that Vietnam is a pillar of its “Act East” policy.

Vietnam and India have shared common interests in maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and development in Asia-Pacific region on the basis of abiding by international laws.

As the coordinator of the ASEAN-India relations for the 2015-2018 period, Vietnam is ready to support India’s connection programs with the Southeast Asia region. Vietnam speaks highly of India’s viewpoints on maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation, respecting diplomatic and legal processes and complying with international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982 (UNCLOS 1982) and of India’s constructive opinions to meet those targets.

Vietnam also consistently backs India to be a permanent member of the expanded UN Security Council.

Vietnam highly appreciates India’s contributions to international forums, including ASEAN-India, the East Asia Summit, the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, ASEM, the South-South Cooperation, and UN and to putting forward the negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement.

A Vietnamese proverb says that “Fire proves gold” while Indians often say that friendship is proven via hardship.

For Vietnamese, India has become a symbol of a close, trustworthy friend despite ups and downs in life. The mutual trust is the valuable fortune of the two nations and the two countries are responsible for grasping opportunities, actualizing potential to bring the two countries’ ties to a new height in a more realistic and effective manner for the two peoples' benefits, contributing to upholding peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the rest of the world.

Translated by Mai Huong