Hanoi: With India continuing to engage in oil exploration in South China Sea, Vietnam on Tuesday appreciated its "constructive role" in the resources-rich area notwithstanding China`s objections to Indian involvement.
General Secretary of Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, who will arrive in New Delhi on a four-day trip tomorrow, also stressed the need for a long-term settlement of the vexed issue on the basis of international law,particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which has been opposed by China.
The Vietnamese leader, who will be visiting India on the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan, will hold talks with the top leadership on key bilateral and regional issues which may include South China Sea territorial dispute between China and its neighbours.
"I believe that peace, stability, maritime security and cooperation for mutual benefits in the East Sea represent the essential interest of countries within and outside the region. We highly appreciate India`s constructive position on this issue," he told PTI in an interview.
Despite China`s objections to Indian oil exploration in South China Sea, Vietnam has been asserting that India has the right to pursue oil exploration there as they were within Vietnamese "exclusive economic zone".
The remarks come in the midst of continuing Indian oil exploration projects in Vietnamese oil blocks in South China Sea. Significantly, Vietnam has also extended an exploration contract in a crucial oil block 128 to ONGC Videsh Ltd despite the Indian oil major indicating that it wanted to terminate operations as it could not explore oil due to hard sea bed.
Vietnamese decision came as it wanted to hold on to Indian presence in the oil-rich South China Sea which is witnessing increasing Chinese assertiveness.
"In the immediate term, all parties must strictly observe the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China and accelerate the development of the Code of Conducts of Parties in the South China Sea," Nguyen said.
India has been maintaining that all concerned countries must respect principles of international law in resolving the issue while asserting that freedom of navigation and access to resources in the area must be ensured in accordance with laid down principles.
The leader said though Vietnam was satisfied with level of cooperation with India in diverse sectors, still it feels "huge room" remained in further enhancing ties.
"One of the main objectives of our visit to India is to discuss with the Indian leaders and set out concrete,effective measures and direction aimed to deepen and add more substances to the Vietnam-India strategic partnership and translate potentials into reality in the interest of the two countries` people," he said.