India, Vietnam to secure sea lanes against terror, crimes

India and Vietnam have agreed to work for securing the sea lanes in their international waters to safeguard maritime security in the face of threats posed by terrorists and transnational crimes.

Ho Chi Minh City: India and Vietnam have agreed to work for securing the sea lanes in their international waters to safeguard maritime security in the face of threats posed by terrorists and transnational crimes.

Both the countries discussed at length these issues during the delegation level talks headed by President Pranab Mukherjee and his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang in Hanoi yesterday, Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa said while talking to reporters here.

Mukherjee arrived in this historic city today on the second leg of his four-day state visit to the southeast Asian nation.

"There were talks about the security of sea lanes between the two nations. Our President emphasised that maritime trade and trafficking should be preserved.

"On the security of the sea lanes our President emphasised that most important is that maritime trade and trafficking in the east sea which is of concern to Vietnam is preserved," Wadhwa said.

He said the President was not talking about sovereignty issues but about collective security - things like terrorism, transnational crime and human smuggling etc.

"What he did say was that if we work together to preserve the freedom of navigation in the seas that surround us then we can take this cooperation forward and we will cooperate in future as far as that aspect is concerned," Wadhwa said.

A joint statement of talks issued yesterday by both the countries had asserted that the two nations want free and independent navigation in the waters of the South China Sea, a move seen by experts as a subtle message to China which has been exerting its influence in this maritime region.

The Secretary also said Vietnam has expressed it desire to expand its cooperation with India in the business and tourism sectors.

"The Vietnamese Prime Minister is expected to come to India next month with a large business delegation. The country wants more cooperation in the economic sector. They are identifying more sectors to seek help (from India) and they (Vietnam) have decided to form a group in this regard," the Secretary said.

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