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PM Modi heads to Vietnam, BrahMos talks likely

by September 1, 2016 General

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaving for an official two-day visit to Vietnam later on Friday, Vietnam’s reported move and desire to acquire the 290 km-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from India is likely to come up for discussion. When asked about the missile, the MEA officials on Thursday said there was “robust” defence cooperation between the two countries and that New Delhi is “prepared to look at” any matter raised during the discussions. While China is said to be apprehensive of any sale of the missile — that was jointly developed by India and Russia — it remains to be seen whether Moscow will give its consent to any acquisition.

The PM will be visiting Vietnam, India’s strategic partner in south-east Asia on September 2 and 3 after which he will attend the annual G20 summit in China’s Hangzhou from September 4 to 5. In China, India is likely to seek concrete measures to check terror financing and crackdown on tax evasion. The PM will return to India on September 5 and will again leave for Laos on a two-day visit to attend the annual India-Asean and East Asia Summits.

In Vietnam, the PM will hold wide-ranging talks with the resource-rich country to deepen ties in key areas of defence, security and trade, and ramping up India’s engagement in oil exploration. India’s ONGC Videsh Limited is engaged in oil exploration projects in Vietnam for over three decades and there may be announcements about new projects during the visit.

The South China Sea issue may also figure in the talks. China wants India to refrain from undertaking oil exploration in the Vietnamese blocks in order to ensure “peace and stability” in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, at the G-20 Summit, India is likely to raise a host of issues ranging from choking terror funding and checking tax evasion to cutting cost of remittances and market access for key drugs. On the sidelines of the Summit, Modi will have bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and attend a BRICS leaders’ meet. A number of other bilaterals are being finalised, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Sujatha Mehta told reporters. She said issues like global tax reform, climate friendly financing and market access for antibiotics are some of the issues likely to be discussed at the meetings. Niti Ayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya is India’s “sherpa” for the G-20 and some of the issues were already discussed in the run up to the summit. Mehta said there will be deliberations on containing terror financing at the G 20 summit.

At the 14th India-ASEAN summit on September 8 in Laos, Modi is expected to pitch for expanding trade ties with the powerful grouping besides enhancing overall cooperation. ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The ASEAN summit will be followed by 11th East Asia Summit which is likely to deliberate on issues relating to security and threat of terrorism. The leaders at East Asia Summit are expected to discuss the situation in South China Sea and as well as a host of other issues.

East Asia Summit is a forum for cooperation between various countries of the region with ASEAN and includes Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US, in addition to the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries.