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Vice President Ansari to visit Vietnam

New Delhi,Diplomacy, Fri, 11 Jan 2013 IANS

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Vice President Hamid Ansari is travelling to Vietnam on a four-day visit from Jan 14 as part of events marking 40 years of India-Vietnam friendship and the fifth year of their strategic partnership.

Accompanying him would be Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot, four members of parliament and other senior officials, said the external affairs ministry spokesperson here Friday.

The vice president, who will visit Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, would be holding "high level exchanges" with the Vietnamese leadership on a host of issues, including bilateral, on further developing their ties.

India and Vietnam became strategic partners in July 2007.

His visit follows days after the India visit of Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh. The Vietnamese deputy prime minister held talks with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Jan 9 on ways to take forward their strategic partnership.

"India views its relations with Vietnam as a major pillar in its Look East policy," said a senior external affairs ministry official.

Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $4 billion and they are aiming to take it to $7 billion over the next few years.

Vietnam is part of the ASEAN, with which India has a Free Trade Agreement in goods. Talks on an FTA on services with the ASEAN have been finalized.

"The FTA on services will unleash a new phase in economic cooperation with Vietnam," the official said.

Over 70 Indian projects, including in the fields of agriculture and IT have their presence in Vietnam. "The total stock of the Indian projects is worth $800 million as of now," the official added.

India is also examining possible projects in the fields of steel and energy, like oil and gas.

It will also open a cultural centre in Hanoi, he said.

The Archaeological Survey of India is helping restore ancient temples in My Son in Vietnam. The project is estimated at $3 million.

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