As part of its effort to increase military alliances in Southeast Asia, India agreed to supply a wide range of weaponry to Vietnam.
During a delegate-level meeting here, New Delhi agreed to supply Vietnam with an unspecified number of military communication systems and ammunition for artillery and mortar systems, and to upgrade Vietnam’s 120 MiG-21 aircraft and 100mm and 130mm artillery systems, a senior Indian Defence Ministry official said. The talks were co-chaired by Ajai Prasad, India’s permanent defence secretary, and Senior Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huy Hieu, the visiting vice defense minister of Vietnam.
Though the value of the entire package is around $600 million, the Indian Defense Ministry official said, India has agreed to accept only $300 million as a gesture of friendship.
He said the details of ugrading the MiG-21s and artillery systems — including where the work will be performed — have not yet been been decided.
India also agreed to train Vietnamese Navy forces at Indian naval training facilities, the official added.
In August, India also agreed to sell coastal patrol craft to Hanoi on a concessional basis, to train Vietnamese personnel to maintain and operate the vessels and naval weapons, and to help Vietnam build a warship in Vietnam’s Bason shipyard.
India by the end of 2006 will deliver to Vietnam two coastal patrol craft at a cost of $3 million each, to be built by state-owned Goa Shipyard Ltd., the official added.
In turn, New Delhi has sought Vietnam’s help in training Indian Army personnel in Vietnam for jungle warfare.
Baljit Singh Menon, deputy spokesman of the Indian Defence Ministry, told that the further strengthening of bilateral defense cooperation — including increased interaction between the two countries’ navies and coast guards — dominated the talks.