NEW DELHI: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Vietnam on Friday, he will be dealing with huge expectations from the Southeast Asian country for supply of military equipment.
Vietnam, which has been elevated to the status of India’s strategic partner, has expressed interest in buying the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, produced under an Indo-Russian joint venture.
“We have a very robust defence cooperation focused on capacity building and training. We expect there is a growing interest in defence procurement from India and we are prepared to look at all aspects of this relationship and have discussions,” said Preeti Saran, Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East), in response to a question on whether the sale of BrahMos would be discussed during the Prime Minister’s visit.
Modi’s itinerary assumes significance as it is the first stand-alone bilateral visit to Vietnam and that too preceding his trip to China. Vietnam and China have been involved in the South China Sea conflict, and Hanoi has one of the potent militaries in the region.
India has been actively helping in defence capacity building of Vietnam. During President Pranab Mukherjee's visit in 2014, he had announced a $110 million line of credit for defence procurement for the Southeast Asian country.
China and Russia reportedly have reservations regarding the sale of BrahMos to Vietnam. If the deal sees the light of day, it would mark a significant change in India’s policy of not supplying lethal military hardware to other countries. India has also been working in close cooperation with Vietnam on maritime security. Vietnam has asked for help in training its pilots for the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30MKIs.