India and Vietnam have agreed to enhance bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2020.

Notwithstanding Chinese objections, India today went ahead to enhance its presence in hydrocarbon-rich South China Sea and inked a pact with Vietnam for exploration in two additional oil and gas blocks besides deciding to step up cooperation in key areas of defence, security, trade and counter—terrorism.

A joint statement issued after the talks said that the leaders of both the nations agreed to take measures to significantly expand and diversify trade for mutually beneficial results.

It said the countries would strive to cross the set target ahead of time.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India remained commited to modernisation of Defence and security forces.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung held wide—ranging talks on important bilateral, regional issues and pitched for “freedom of navigation and commerce, and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes in the region“.

"This will include expansion of our training programmes, joint exeercises and cooperation in Defence equipment. We will quickly operationalise $100 million line of credit that will enable Vietnam to acquire new naval vessels from India," Modi said.

He also thanked the visiting dignitary for Vietnam for his commitment to collaboration with India in its oil and gas sector and its additional offer of exploration blocks.

New blocks

A senior Government official said that Vietnam has offered India two new blocks and extended the period for one existing block by two years.

The blocks offered are in Vietnam territorial waters and are from among the five Vietnam had offered India earlier.


India has also agreed to increase cooperation in space, including in space applications and the launch of Vietnam's satellites.

Today’s agreements on oil exploration are likely to irk China, which has an acrimonious relationship with Vietnam due to their standoff over the South China Sea, a major source of hydrocarbons. China has been objecting to India’s oil exploration projects in the disputed waters.

(With inputs from PTI)