New Delhi: Ahead of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang`s visit here next week, several security experts and former diplomats on Friday favoured deeper strategic ties, particularly in defence sector with the South East Asian nation.
Addressing a workshop on India-Vietnam Cooperation, former foreign secretary MK Rasgotra sought stronger "security dimension" between the two countries, identifying Vietnam as a key player in the South China Sea region.
Former deputy national security adviser Leena Ponappa said India`s relations with Vietnam are a "partnership which is more than China" and are is based on "shared mindset".
Noting that energy security was key to India`s future, she said Vietnam is a "phenomenally productive country" and India must enhance cooperation with it in various areas, including defence sector.
These suggestions were made amidst controversy over oil exploration by India in Vietnamese oil blocks in the South China Sea with Chinese authorities raising objections claiming that it was their area.
However, the claim was rejected by both India and Vietnam saying as per the UN the blocks belong to Vietnam.
Seeking deepening of defence ties, particularly in maritime security sector, security expert C Raja Mohan said India could even help Vietnam in space technology and in the civil nuclear field by enhancing capacity building.
All the speakers said South China Sea was key for all the countries in the region and Vietnam having a coastline of 3,100 km is nation from security point of view.
Raja Mohan said China is apparently wary about a proposal to sell Brahmos missile systems to Vietnam by India.