HANOI, VIETNAM: India became the latest country to cozy up to Vietnam’s military amid rising tensions involving the South China Sea.
The South Asian powerhouse will help Vietnam train forces for international peacekeeping while the communist country offered to provide repair, maintenance and fuel for Indian naval ships, the Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper reported Thursday.
The agreement was reached during talks between the Vietnamese Defence Minister, Mr Phung Quang Thanh and his Indian counterpart, Mr A K Antony, it said.
Several countries in the region have expressed concern over increasingly aggressive maritime moves by China, including events surrounding a collision last month off disputed islands in the East China Sea that plunged relations between China and Japan to a five-year low.
The US military recently demonstrated growing military relations with Vietnam by flying several high-ranking Vietnamese officials to a US nuclear aircraft carrier off the coast of central Vietnam. The two navies also recently participated in training exercises.
The newspaper said Thanh had asked Antony to send experts to Vietnam to help train soldiers for international missions, marking the first step in establishing Vietnamese U.N. peacekeeping forces.
The Indian defence minister was in Hanoi for a regional meeting of defence chiefs from 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and eight other countries, including the United States, Japan and China.
Maritime security including freedom of navigation in the busy shipping South China Sea was prominent during the one-day discussions.