India welcome to explore oil and gas in Vietnam

Hanoi: Unfazed by Chinese threats, Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang today said India and other foreign nations were welcome to explore hydrocarbons in areas within his country`s jurisdiction, as he sought to deepen strategic and defence ties with New Delhi.

Ahead of his maiden state visit to India from Tuesday, President Sang said the objectives of his trip are to continue to strengthen friendship between the two peoples, reinforce, deepen and add greater substance to bilateral strategic partnership.

"This visit takes place in the context that the time- honoured traditional friendship and strategic partnership between Vietnam and India are witnessing strong growth in all areas for the sake of peace, stability, cooperation and development," Sang told in an interview.

"We note with satisfaction the fine developments of the strategic partnership between the two countries in all areas, including security – defence," he said.

The high-level visit, which will be closely followed by Beijing, comes at a time when both countries are having their own difficulties with China.

Commenting on the controversy over oil exploration by India in two Vietnamese oil blocks in the South China Sea with Chinese authorities raising objections claiming that it was their area, Sang defended Hanoi`s deal with India.

"It is a fact that all cooperation projects between Vietnam and other partners including ONGC in the field of oil and gas are located on the continental shelf, within the exclusive economic zone and under the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam, entirely in conformity with international laws, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea," he said.