New Delhi: Drastic changes in regional security has created a need for closer bilateral strategic partnership with India, a top Vietnamese official said as the country beefs up its defence capabilities amid territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.
"Because of very drastic change in regional security, it has set the need for a closer cooperation between our two countries. Mostly in terms of strategic partnership," Vietnam's Vice Minister of Defence Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh said.
He did not explain what the drastic changes were but Vietnam is engaged in a confrontation with China in South China Sea over territorial sovereignty.
Vietnam has a long wish list from India which includes buying of at least four patrol boats, training of Vietnamese Air Force pilots to fly Sukhoi fighter jets and even BrahMos missiles, among others.
The country wants to soon operationalise the USD 100 million Line of Credit (LoC) for defence procurement extended by India recently and is in the process of identifying a shipyard in the country to buy the patrol vessels.
The minister, who was here for strategic defence dialogue, underlined that Vietnam has "very high trust" with India on issues of national defence.
Talking about the Line of Credit, he said Vietnam is yet to decide on the number of vessels to be bought but said it was not just four.
He said the vessels would be used to patrol its water and Exclusive Economic Zone.
Vietnam wants the vessel for surveillance off its coast and around its military bases in the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea where it is building a credible naval deterrent to China with Kilo-class submarines from Russia.