International Affairs



Excellency Madam Vice President, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a great pleasure for me and my wife to be back in this beautiful country and this historic city of Hanoi after a lapse of nearly 30 years. For us this is both a “home coming” and a pilgrimage. “Vietnam”, as the late prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi said, “is not merely the name of a country. The word has found a place in the history of human endeavour and has come to symbolise the very spirit of national freedom”.

I am happy, excellency, thanks to your kind invitation, that I have the privilege of standing before this august gathering and offering to the brave people and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam greetings and good wishes from the government and the people of India. In particular I bring to you, Madam Vice-President, greetings from the women in India.      Thirty years ago in difficult times I have had the opportunity to share with you a ‘bowl of rice’ symbolic of your hospitality and friendship for our country. As two ancient nations we have deep moorings in culture. Out historical and cultural links go back to the very beginning of recorded history. In modern times our leaders inspired and drew strength from each other in the struggle against colonialism and foreign domination.  

Excellency, we have stood by each other in times of trial and tribulations. Today the world has changed. In bringing about this change, India and Vietnam, together with other nonaligned and developing countries, played a significant part. We had dreamt of and worked for a new order without colonialism and without cold war. Now that such a world is coming into being, we cannot still afford to forget the words of Ho Chi Minh: “Nothing is more precious than Independence and Freedom”. It is indeed for preserving this precious freedom and independence that we have to build up our countries, economically and socially, and cooperate with each other and the rest of the world with a new sense of freedom and openness.    

It is gratifying that today, despite great odds, Vietnam is set firmly on the path of renovation and reconstruction and proceeding along it at an impressive pace through what you have called the policy of “DOI MOI”. In India also we have initiated and are pouching forward a far reaching programme of economic liberalisation. We are happy to note that Vietnam has made major strides in its economic development. India has also entered a new era of irreversible change charged with dynamism. Both out countries now face the future with renewed confidence. Our new policies offer tremendous opportunities for forging stinger economic, commercial, technical and cultural ties between us.

Vietnam has elicited our admiration particularly in the field of agricultural development. From being an importer of food, you have now emerged as a major exporter of rice. It is heart warming for us to see that this success on the agricultural front is being repeated in other sectors of your economy. We are happy that we have co-operated with Vietnam in establishing the Cuu Long Rive Research Institute, besides extending technical co-operation in other areas as well. I am convinced that our co-operation can be further extended and speeded up with the involvement of industrialists, investors and business men from both sides. Leading industrialist and business men from India have been exploring new opportunities for economic co-operation, especially in establishing joint ventures.

The greatest need for us today is to increase to the maximum extent possible the column of our trade and to widen and deepen out co-operation in the economic field. It is in this way that we can consolidate and carry forward our traditional friendship and co-operation in the new epoch in the world in which economic have assumed primacy in international relations. That could also provide substance for a more meaningful South Co-operation that we have been calling for. Excellency, peace and stability are pre-conditions to economic development. In this context we welcome the emergence of a limit of mutual trust and faith among the countries of Asia. The return of peace in Cambodia after the successful completion of elections held under U.N. supervision is a positive development.

We welcome the emergence of ASEAN as a coherent and successful regional economic grouping. We believe that closer interaction between Vientam and ASEAN, especially after its accession to the Treaty of Peace, Amity and Co-operation has been as an important ingredient for peace and stability in the South East Asian region. India has also historic and cultural links with this region going back to many centuries and we are a sectoral dialogue partner with ASEAN. Out Prime Minister, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao has just concluded a very successful visit to our common neighbour, China. I am glad to say that our relations with China are now marked by a greater degree of undersigning than before.

We have noted that positive and progressive development have taken place in the relations between Vietnam and China. We welcome Vietnam’s efforts to make friends with all countries in the region and with all powers in the world, great and small. In our own region we are determined to continue our efforts for promoting good neighbourly relations and for expanding the process of co-operation in South Asia with the objective of making this important region an area of peace, friendship and prosperity.   

Excellency, the aim of the nonaligned movement has been to nurture the spirit of co-operation and dialogue and help create a new, just and more equal world order. This movement which has played a crucial role in the post-war world have an important role to play in promoting a new world order. There is substantial scope for the movement to make a contribution towards constructive relationship between the nations of the South and the North which is required for the progress and balance of the world.

Excellency, the 21st Century is being looked upon as the Asian Century. Great powers and stable system of nation states have emerged on the Asian scene. Out two countries are deeply conscious of this emerging new role of Asia. I may recall here that in October 1946 when Jawaharlal Nehru was planning for holding the Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi, he had despatched a letter to Ho Chi Minh in order to apprise him of this proposal. That letter could be delivered to Ho Chi Minh only in Colombo as he was then transiting on his journey to Paris. In a return message which Ho Chi Minh transmitted to Nehru through the then Representative of India in Ceylon, he expressed the hope that there would remain united.

He added “when the two big Asiatic countries, India and China, stand up united, then will all the countries of Asia also stand up and prosper”. Today not only China and India but Japan and Vietnam and other countries of East Asia and South East Asia have stood up and are prospering. Indeed what Nehru said at the Asian Relations Conference in 1947, “There are powerful creative impulses and new vitality in all people of Asia” is even more true today in our own times. This new Asia is seeking to live in amity, friendship and co-operation with all the countries of the world including the United States of America, the European Community, the countries of West Asia and the African and Latin American Countries, as an integral part of freer and better world. As the poet of Vietnam, To Huu Sang   I bring my heart to the hearts of all men.

          Letting my love flow to the furthest horizons.
          And my soul be one with the souls of all who suffer.   

India, Excellency, remains fully committed to march with Vietnam, hand in hand, along a new path of peace, prosperity and openness.

I am confident of the success of our endeavours for economic and social reconstruction and I look forward to an even closer partnership between India and Vietnam in the coming years.

May I request Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, to raise your glasses to a toast :
To the good health and happiness of His Excellency Mr. Le Duc Anh, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.        To the good health and happiness of your Excellency Madam Nguyen Thi Binh, the Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

          To the strengthening and enrichment of India - Vietnam friendship and cooperation.
          To the good health and happiness of all the distinguished guests present here.                                             

Thank you

Jai Hind