HANOI: Vietnam's top leaders today lauded India's position on the disputed South China Sea (SCS) and sought its participation in oil and gas sectors of the Communist nation, as they hailed the upgradation of bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Vietnam appreciates India's principled position on the South China Sea issue, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong told Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the latter called on him, sources said.
"We must also intensify our coordination in regional and multilateral fora," he told Modi, who reiterated that India always stood as a friend with Vietnam throughout history.
"It would be rare to find such a relationship which has lasted 2,000 years," he told Trong and recalled the Vietnamese leader's visit to India in 2013.
China is involved in a raging dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei over ownership of territory in the SCS, a busy waterway through which India's 50 per cent trade passes.
India supports freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).
India believes that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability.
The Prime Minister said areas such as cyber security and information technology would benefit from the creation of a task force and help the two sides solve future problems.
Trong agreed that India-Vietnam relations were time tested and very durable. He said he had visited India twice in 2010 and 2013 and both visits had left very good impressions.
Noting that India is a major country with unique and age old civilisation and culture, he said Vietnamese people had never forgotten India's strong support during Vietnam's struggle for independence, sources said.
"The upgradation of relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was an indicator of the importance Vietnam attaches to India. It has strategic partnerships only with two other countries, Russia and China," he said.
He also thanked Modi for India's support to Vietnam's armed forces and agreed with the Prime Minister that cooperation in cyber security was very important.
Prime Minister Modi also called on Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang at the Presidential Palace today.
"Our partnership will strengthen peace, development and security in the region," President Quang told Modi.
Noting that Vietnam was a priority in India's Act East policy, the Prime Minister lauded the strong foundation that had been laid for security and defence ties between the two countries, sources said.
President Quang said Vietnam fully supports India's Act East Policy and thanked New Delhi for its consistent support to socio-economic development of this south east Asian nation.
He welcomed the upcoming 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between India and Vietnam and 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Strategic Partnership which has been now elevated Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Prime Minister Modi recalled Quang's visit to India in 2013 as Minister for Public Security.
He said greater economic partnership would be a win-win for both countries. As ASEAN country coordinator for India during 2016-18, Vietnam can take forward relations between the two sides even further, he added.
President Quang called for frequent high-level exchanges to further strengthen political trust between the two sides.
He sought further support from India in investment, education, training and science and technology.
He also sought more Indian participation in oil and gas sectors of Vietnam, sources said.
Both the leaders expressed great optimism for the future of India Vietnam ties.
Prime Minister Modi invited Quang to visit India. President thanked him for the invitation.
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi met with Speaker of National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. The two leaders called for greater parliamentary exchanges between the two countries.
Ngan said she would be visiting India in December. She recalled long standing historical and cultural ties with India and said as a young girl she used to watch Indian films.
The two leaders applauded the decision to upgrade the ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, sources said.