PM to leave for China today, but via Vietnam


NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins another Asian sojourn, as he heads off on Friday afternoon to attend the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, making a politically important stop at Vietnam en route. Modi will also meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of G-20, months after their meeting in Tashkent before the NSG plenary in Seoul.

Modi will soon leave after meeting Egypt’s President, Gen Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, who is on his first state visit to India and who is also on his way to the G-20. MEA secretary, Sujata Mehta, said India would use this ‘leaders-only’ forum to focus on measures to check terror financing and crack down on tax evasion and reduce Indian professionals’ tax liabilities overseas.

But the PM’s Vietnam visit, where energy, defence and a strategic partnership will get top billing, will be closely watched in Beijing and beyond. India is expected to give four patrol boats to Vietnam, a transfer holding significance in the context of Vietnam’s claims against China in South China Sea.

India has a couple of oil exploration blocks given by Vietnam which fall within the 9-dash-line. India’s ONGC Videsh Limited is engaged in oil exploration in Vietnam for over three decades and there may be announcements about new projects in the sector during the bilateral visit, which is taking place after a gap of 15 years. MEA secretary Preeti Saran said India would get additional blocks from Vietnam. China wants India to refrain from undertaking oil exploration in the Vietnamese blocks in order to ensure “peace and stability” in the South China Sea. The issue is likely to be discussed in depth with Vietnam.

Click here for more…