The Vietnamese Deputy PM, Pham Binh Minh, who is also the Foreign Minister of his country, is on a two-day visit to Delhi. India and Vietnam have shared political and economic interests. As the future unfolds ASEAN countries have reason to be optimistic about India. ASEAN will greatly benefit from India’s experience of resolving maritime issues in a peaceful manner with Bangladesh, SriLanka and Myanmar.This template is likely to be of great help to ASEAN for resolving their dispute with China in the South China Sea region, with India to help out as an Umpire or who knows as the Centre Forward for the ASEAN?
The Deputy PM held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. His comments in support of greater role for India in Southeast Asia came even as tension is building up between India and China across the Sikkim sector. Besides the Indian and Vietnamese ministers, the ministerial session was participated by General V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, India and Mr U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister, Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor, Myanmar and Mr. Hirubalan V P, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Political-Security Community Department ASEAN Secretariat.
Vietnam Deputy PM, urged India to play a greater role in ASEAN’s strategic and security affairs. Speaking at the Delhi Dialogue IX, a platform for discussion between ASEAN and India. Mr Pham Binh Minh said that India should support freedom of navigation in the South China Sea on the basis of international law and conventions. ASEAN expect India to play a greater role in the political and security domain to create a regional rule-based region. We hope India will continue to partner our efforts for strategic security and freedom of navigation in South China Sea on the basis of international law and legal convention.’ said the visiting leader.
In her speech, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that a tie with ASEAN was at the centre of India’s Act East Policy. India places ASEAN at the Centre of its Act East Policy and the centre of the dream of an Asian century. Sushma Swaraj termed the ASEAN and India as natural partners.
Pham Binh Minh’s comments are also important as they come a day after senior BJP leader Ram Madhav hinted at China’s growing domination of Southeast Asia and asked Vietnam to partner India in resisting 21st century version of neo-colonialism. Addressing a conference on India-Vietnam ties organised at the Teen Murty Bhavan, Mr Madhav said ‘It is important for us to make sure that the 21st century version of the same colonialism does not return to haunt us and succeed. Geopolitics in the Indian Ocean region makes the possibility of neo-colonialism a reality with countries trying to dominate others through money, market and through military.’
The Delhi Dialogue IX marks the beginning of the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN diplomatic ties. The Vietnamese leader also indicated that a special India-ASEAN summit will be held in 2018.