NEW DELHI: In an attempt to strengthen military cooperation, India and Vietnam held a strategic defence dialogue here on Friday.
The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lt Gen Ngyyen Chi Vinh, while the Indian side was headed by Defence Secretary R K Mathur. Vinh also called on National Security Adviser(NSA) Ajit Doval and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
The annual dialogue comes two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung, who had visited the country in October.
According to official sources, Vietnam has agreed to buy four patrol vessels for its Navy under the Line of Credit Scheme extended by India but is yet to formally identify the shipyard it wants them from.
Hanoi wants the vessel for surveillance off its coast and around its military bases in the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea where it is building a credible Naval deterrent to Beijing with Kilo-class submarines from Russia. The sources also said that talks are on to train Vietnam Air Force pilots in flying Sukhoi fighters as well.
India is already training Vietnam Navy personnel to operate Russian-origin Kilo-class submarine among other areas.
India and Vietnam have a long-standing defence relationship but it has been restricted to military exchanges, training, spares and maintenance of military hardware.