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SOURCE: PTI

Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Vietnamese Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh held a “security dialogue” on Tuesday wherein they committed to elevate engagements between the armed forces of the two countries under the framework of “comprehensive strategic partnership”.

The Defence Ministry said in a statement that during their virtual interaction, Kumar and Vinh expressed satisfaction at the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries in spite of the limitations imposed by COVID-19.

The navies of India and Vietnam held a four-day maritime exercise off Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam in April last year with an aim to boost operational cooperation. Last month, an Indian Navy warship undertook a ”passage exercise” with the Vietnamese Navy in the South China Sea.

India and Vietnam upgraded their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016 and defence cooperation has been one of the more significant elements in the fast-expanding bilateral ties.

Vietnam, an important country of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region.

The Defence ministry said Kumar and Vinh exchanged views on the “plan of action” that emanated from the last month”s virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

“Both the sides reviewed the progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and expressed commitment to further elevate engagements between the armed forces under the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership,” the Defence ministry noted.

India and China are locked in an eight-month-long bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh. Both sides have held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the standoff. However, no breakthrough has been achieved.