President wraps up Vietnam tour; leaves for home

President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday wrapped up his four-day state visit to Vietnam and left for home after inking key pacts and declaring a united Indo-Vietnam stand for free navigation in the disputed waters of South China Sea and adjoining maritime areas.

IANS| Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014, 13:29 PM IST

Ho Chi Minh City: President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday wrapped up his four-day state visit to Vietnam and left for home after inking key pacts and declaring a united Indo-Vietnam stand for free navigation in the disputed waters of South China Sea and adjoining maritime areas.

The President was seen off at the airport by the Vice Chairman of People's Committee of Vietnam Tat Thanh Cang and Ambassador of Vietnam to India Nguyen Thanh Tan.

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

During his stay in Vietnam, 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 signed important deals 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 the ONGC Videsh Limited and Petro Vietnam for exploration of two blocks in the sea adjoining the southeast Asian nation has been opposed by China yesterday.

The two nations also brought out a joint resolution after the bilateral talks which asserted that there should be a free navigation in the South China Sea, a move being seen by experts as a subtle message by the two countries to China which has been exerting its influence in this maritime zone.

On the second leg of his tour, the President reached this historic city, formerly called Saigon, where he lauded the initiatives and policies of  Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government and expected hope that these would lead the Indian economy to a good stead.

While meeting the Party Committee of the Ho Chi Minh City, Mukherjee said Indo-Vietnam ties were "infinite" as he extoled the fortitude and courage of Vietnamese people in crushing oppressing forces and securing independence after great struggle.

Mukherjee said these roots, apart from Buddhism, connected the two countries since ages and will continue to do so in the future. He had already assured the country while delivering a banquet speech in Hanoi that India will be Vietnam's "all weather" friend.

In order to underline the strength and long lasting friendship between the two nations, Mukherjee had also gifted a 'Bodhi Tree' sapling to the country which was planted by both the heads of state in the Presidential Palace in Hanoi.

After the deliberations, India also extended an invite to Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung to visit New Delhi.