Notwithstanding China's objections to Indian oil exploration projects, Vietnam today asserted India has the right to pursue 'exploration and exploitation work' in South China Sea as they were within Vietnamese 'exclusive economic zone'.
The two countries, which held their 15th Joint Commission Meeting here, also inked an agreement for a 19.5 million dollar Line of Credit India will give to Vietnam.
After the meeting with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid during which crucial bilateral and regional issues were discussed, Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, said both sides discussed the South and East China Seas, agreeing that UN law on freedom of navigation in high seas need to be respected.
He said both sides have also reaffirmed that all the countries bordering the South and East China Sea have rights to their exclusive economic zones and that India can pursue 'exploration and exploitation work in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam'.
The remarks came in the backdrop of continued Chinese objections over oil exploration projects undertaken by India in Vietnamese oil blocks. China has been claiming territorial sovereignty over South China Sea, a claim contested by its neighbours including Vietnam.
'India-Vietnam security and defence cooperation is robust and growing, based on shared interests and a convergence in our security perceptions,' Khurshid said.
He said India has indicated any contentious issue 'should be settled in a peaceful manner, through dialogue'. PTI SAP
He has invited the Vietnamese Defence Minister to India later this year before the visit of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
India and Vietnam also signed a USD 19.5 million Line of Credit for setting up Nam Trai-IV hydropower project and Binh Bo Pumping station.
He said both sides agreed to consolidate bilateral activities and add greater content to the partnership and bilateral relations in the fields of defence and security, trade and investment, science and technology, information technology, capacity-building and human resource development, agriculture, education, culture and other areas of common interest.