India, Vietnam Sign Civil Nuke Pact

In a significant development, India and Vietnam signed a civilian nuclear deal on Saturday.
Officials of the two Asian countries signed the deal in the presence of Speaker of Indian Parliament’s Lower House Sumitra Mahajan and President of Vietnam’s National Assembly Ngyun Thi Kim Ngan in New Delhi. This is India’s first such partnership with a neighbour of China and Vietnam is the 14th country with which India signed the nuclear deal.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the two countries also signed three more agreements, including one to enhance aviation links, another to jointly work in the area of energy efficiency and the third one to promote parliamentary co-operation.
According to the statement, India will train Vietnamese scientists and help them in capacity building on the basis of the Indo-Vietnam Inter-Governmental Framework Agreement. The accord will also allow India to help Vietnam in improving safeguard measures of its nuclear installations, added the ministry. Before Vietnam, Sri Lanka was the only country in the region with which India signed a civil nuclear pact.
During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Hanoi in September, India and Vietnam agreed to “expedite the negotiation” for the Inter-Governmental Framework Agreement on co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. At that time, the Indian premier said that as Vietnam already had bilateral civil nuclear pacts with Russia and Japan, those pacts would complement the Indo-Vietnamese partnership. Interestingly, India, too, has civil nuclear pacts with Russia and Japan.
Meanwhile, Ngan tried to push comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam during his meeting with Mahajan. The Vietnamese National Assembly president, accompanied by a big business delegation, claimed that her visit would certainly provide a fillip to parliamentary co-operation between the two “friendly” nations through exchanges between leaders of Parliaments, committees, parliamentary friendship groups and parliamentarians of two countries.
Ngan held a separate meeting with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi to discuss various aspects of bilateral ties. During their meeting, the Vietnamese leader said that the agreement on Co-operation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy “will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam”. On the occasion, Premier Modi recalled his earlier meeting with Ngan in September, saying that Ngan, as the first woman to head the National Assembly of Vietnam, would inspire women across the world.
As expected, Ngan and Modi discussed the “South China Sea” issue. When the Vietnamese leader thanked India for welcoming the recent award of Arbitral Tribunal on the issue, Modi stressed that New Delhi wants Beijing to resolve disputes with Vietnam and other South East Asian countries through peaceful negotiation. He once again advised China to exercise self-restraint and to ensure peace and stability in the region.


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