“Both sides prudently adapted to the new situation and maintained the momentum of engagements, including high-level engagements, through virtual platforms,” he told VnExpress.
India and Vietnam also maintained close communication on controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
The Military Medical Departments of both countries held on-line interactions to exchange valuable experiences and discuss responses including diagnosis, preventive measures and treatment. India also conducted an online Covid-19 management course for military officials of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
Thanks to strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam has managed to contain its Covid-19 outbreaks with fewer than 3,000 infections and just 35 deaths in a population of 98 million; while India has reported a significant drop in the number of Covid-19 cases for several months.
“Our Navies and Coast Guards are engaged in regular exchange of ship visits and port calls. Cooperation in the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations is another key area of our cooperation,” Verma said.
The Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kiltan arrived in HCMC for a three-day visit last December to strengthen bilateral maritime cooperation and deliver humanitarian assistance, including relief goods for flood-affected people in central Vietnam.
Bilateral defense industry collaboration also made significant progress in 2020 through continued implementation of credit lines to strengthen Vietnam’s defense manufacturing capability, Verma added.
In addition, important bilateral agreements were signed last year for cooperation in the fields of Hydrography and U.N. Peace Keeping Operations.
As part of the project for building 12 high-speed patrol vessels for Vietnam Border Guard under India’s $100 million line of credit, five vessels are being built at the Larsen & Toubro shipyard in Chennai, with the rest to be built at Hong Ha shipyard in northern port city Hai Phong under the Indian firm’s supervision.
Verma stressed that defense partnership between the two countries has developed in recent times thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation signed in 2009 and the India-Vietnam Joint Vision on Defense Cooperation signed in 2015.
“Defense and security cooperation between India and Vietnam is an important pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and reflects the deep levels of mutual trust and understanding between our two countries,” he added.
During a virtual summit last December, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc reaffirmed their joint vision for peace, prosperity and development of the India-Vietnam comprehensive strategic partnership.
Both leaders also expressed their resolve to step up bilateral defense exchanges and affirmed that enhanced defense and security partnership between India and Vietnam will be an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“As a close partner of India with multifaceted political, economic and security cooperation and as a key link in India’s engagement with ASEAN, Vietnam is clearly an indispensable partner in our Indo-Pacific Vision, based on our shared values and interests in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” Verma said.
Vietnam and India established diplomatic relations in 1972 and their relationship has developed strongly in recent years .