Vietnam’s Institute for Defence International Relations (IDIR) and United Service Institution of India (USI) interact bilaterally, with the USI visiting Vietnam in odd numbered years and the IDIR reciprocating by visiting USI in even numbered years. This interaction commenced with the visit of the first USI Delegation to IDIR from 10 to 15 May 2006. As part of this periodic interaction, a USI delegation visited Vietnam from 25 September to 27 September 2019. The members of Indian Delegation were as under:
(a) Vice Admiral Satish Soni, PVSM, AVSM, NM (Retd), USI Member, formerly C-in C Southern & Eastern Naval Commands and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, IHQ of MoD (Navy).
(b) Lt Gen Ghanshyam Singh Katoch, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), USI Council Member and Distinguished Fellow, formerly Director General Perspective Planning, IHQ of Mod (Army).
(c) Maj Gen BK Sharma, AVSM, SM & Bar (Retd), Deputy Director (Research) and Head of Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation, USI.
- The USI delegation was joined by the following from the Indian Embassy, Hanoi for the deliberation:
- Col Varadhan Kumar, Indian Defence Attaché, Embassy of India, Ha Noi, Vietnam.
- Shri Sushil Prasad, First Secretary (Pol, Press & Info) Embassy of India, Ha Noi, Vietnam.
- The Vietnam side was led by Senior Col Khuong Viet Thanh, Officiating & Deputy Director, IDIR and included the following:-
(a) Col Ngo Thanh Tung, Head Asia- Africa Division.
(b) Col Nguyen Chien, Presently with IDIR and Former DA, Vietnam Embassy in India.
(c) Mr Ton Sinh Thanh , Ex Ambassador to India.
(d) Representative from Institute of Indian and SW Asian Studies (VASS).
(e) Fellows from IDIR.
The two sides discussed Dynamics of Strategic Competition in the Indo- Pacific Region, India’s Act East Policy and Indo-Vietnam relations. Key points of presentations are summarised as under:-
- Maj Gen BK Sharma spoke on “Dynamics of US-China Strategic Competition in the Indo-Pacific and its implications on Regional Peace and Stability”. He highlighted the importance of Indo- Pacific in the strategic calculus of China and US, the dynamics of cooperation, competition, and conflict and challenges in conflict prevention and management.
- Col Col Ngo Thanh Tung, Head Asia- Africa Division spoke on the topic “Factors Affecting Indo-Asia-Pacific Security.” He began by stating that the world is seeing “Cold War 2.0” in which the US and China are the two main poles. He covered the changes taking place in the world order where Russia is reasserting its status by intervening in certain regions.
- Lt Gen Ghanshyam Singh Katoch spoke on “India’s Act East Policy (AEP) Perspective and Prospects”. He highlighted that the AEP is an effort to strengthen economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast & East Asia.
- Vice Admiral Satish Soni spoke on the topic “Current Vietnam Relations and Perspective in the Upcoming Times”. He provided an in-depth analysis of traditional and non- traditional security threats in the Indo- Pacific and offered a slew of recommendations
- Mr Ton Sinh Thanh, former Ambassador to India spoke on “Vietnam-India Relations, Present State and Way Forward”. He talked about common security concerns of India and Vietnam vis a vis major powers. He underlined the fact that Vietnam values India’s support in the recent incidents in the East Sea.
The USI delegation also interacted with Shri Pranay Verma, the Indian A
mbassador in Hanoi. The Indian Ambassador hosted the USI delegation and the IDIR delegates at his residence.
The overall impression was that Vietnam stridently follows a “Three Nos” strategy; no alliances, no foreign bases, no use of their territory by one country against another. Vietnam pursues a multi vector engagement and neutrality in maintaining relations with major powers. It remains skeptical of both US and China. India is seen as a very important yet benign strategic partner by Vietnam.