President Pranab Mukherjee returns after 'highly successful' Vietnam visit

President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday returned home after a "highly successful" four-day visit to Vietnam during which key pacts to further strengthen bilateral ties were signed.

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday returned home after a "highly successful" four-day visit to Vietnam during which key pacts to further strengthen bilateral ties were signed.

The visit also saw the two countries declaring a united Indo-Vietnam stand for free navigation in the disputed waters of South China Sea and adjoining maritime areas.

In his departure statement, Mukherjee, who described his visit as "highly successful", said the southeast Asian nation has progressed and is making forward strides in all fields, including economy "based on the strength of their character and determination".

"I am convinced that my visit will provide fresh impetus and momentum to our close friendship and strategic partnership, which is based on civilisational contacts, modern day solidarity and great potential for the future," he said.

On the last day of his state visit, the President visited the iconic 'Cu Chi Tunnels' near Ho Chi Minh City which are one of the most visible and historical vestiges of Vietnam's national liberation war.

During the visit, which began from September 14 in Hanoi, Mukherjee held talks with the top leadership of Vietnam, including President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, General Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong and Secretary of the Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Le Thanh Hai.

Both the sides, after delegation level talks, signed important accords including in the crucial and strategic sectors of defence procurement, oil exploration and air connectivity.

The specific signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) between ONGC Videsh Limited and Petro Vietnam for exploration of two blocks in the sea adjoining the southeast Asian nation was opposed by China yesterday.

On the second leg of his tour, the President visited Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, where he lauded the initiatives and policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government.

Mukherjee said Indo-Vietnam ties were "infinite" as he extoled the fortitude of the Vietnamese people in crushing oppressing forces and securing independence after a great struggle.

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