New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday embarked on a four-day state visit to strategically important Vietnam during which he will hold talks with top leaders there as the two countries will ink pacts in key areas of oil exploration and air connectivity sectors.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Thawar Chand Gehlot, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and Navy Chief R K Dhowan gave the President a warm farewell at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
During the trip, Mukherjee would be travelling to capital Hanoi and the historic city of Ho Chi Minh and hold discussions with President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on issues of international, regional and bilateral importance.
Ahead of his visit, Mukherjee termed security and defence as "major pillars" of cooperation between the two countries and said he was of the view that there was much more potential that can be realised in these areas and both sides are working towards it along with the regional partners.
An agreement between India's ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) and Petro Vietnam for exploring oil in the South China Sea blocks are among the number of pacts to be inked during the visit. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is part of the delegation that is travelling with the President.
The attempt to invite India for drilling operations in the disputed South China Sea is seen by experts as a move by Vietnam to counter China's influence in the region.