International Affairs


Your Excellency President Tran Duc Luong,

Madame Nguyen Thi Vinh,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with the greatest pleasure that I extend a warm and cordial welcome, on behalf of the Government and people of India, to Your Excellency, to Madame Nguyen Thi Vinh and the distinguished Ministers and Members of your delegation. Your visit brings to mind the historic visit to India of President Ho Chi Minh in 1958 which remains vividly etched in our memory. Ho Chi Minh was one of the pre-eminent figures of our century. His life was epic in its scale and achievement. He and Prime Minister Nehru laid the foundations of the fraternal relationship that exists between our two countries. They were the leaders of the anti-colonial movement that shaped a new order of equality and justice for the peoples of Asia and the world. This visit of yours, Excellency, as the President of free and reunited Vietnam, is another landmark in the history of our relations.

I had the privilege of representing India in your beautiful and friendly country in the early 1960s, at a time when the Vietnamese people were engaged in a heroic struggle for the freedom and reunification of your country. And I had the good fortune to know personally President Ho Chi Minh and some of the legendary figures of that struggle who were also heroes for the people of India. It is therefore a matter of special happiness for me and my wife to welcome you as the first President of Vietnam to visit our country after Ho Chi Minh's memorable visit to India in 1958.

The interaction between India and Vietnam goes back over two millennia. The temples in Southern and Central Vietnam bear testimony to our centuries old cultural and commercial interaction. And our political bonds were forged in our struggle against colonialism. It was during one of these days that Ho Chi Minh sitting in his prison cell wrote a poem to Jawaharlal Nehru in which he said:

Thousand miles apart,

We have not met.

We communicate without words,

Shared ideas link you and me

It was the shared ideas which made us ardently to support each other in our respective struggles for freedom and nationhood. It was in the same spirit of shared destiny that in 1947, a few months before India became independent, Jawaharlal Nehru organized the Asian Relations Conference in Delhi to which Vietnam was invited. The letter of invitation was delivered to Ho Chi Minh in Colombo while he was in transit to France. Replying to Nehru's letter Ho Chi Minh expressed the hope that there would soon be a settlement in India and India would emerge united out of it. Interestingly he added: "When the two big Asiatic countries, India and China, stood up united, then will all the countries of Asia stand up and prosper". It was this vision of Asia that was articulated at the Conference and pursued by India thereafter. Since then Vietnam had to wage a bitter and prolonged struggle for its freedom and unity. To-day we welcome you to India as the Head of State of victorious Vietnam in that heroic struggle.

It is a matter of great satisfaction to us in India that our two countries have built upon our historic friendship and mutual support in our freedom struggles, an intimate and modern relationship of friendship and co-operation which can be model to other nations in our continent. We are happy, Excellency, that Vietnam has emerged from a devastating war not only re-united nation, but a stable polity and one of the fastest growing economies of the region. As a member of the ASEAN you have added strength to the South East Asian region and are a source of peace and stability in Asia. In the meantime we in India have also been developing and progressing. After a phase of planned economic development which laid the foundations of our progress, we have achieved self-sufficiency in foodgrains to be able to feed our one billion people, and self-reliance in modern industry and science and technology and we have to-day moved with the rest of the world into a new stage of economic liberalisation and reforms.

To-day India is one of the top ten economically advanced countries of the world. During the last one decade our economy has been growing at an average rate of 5 to 6% a year and we have projected a growth rate of 6 to 7% in the next decade. I am glad to say that in this new context India and Vietnam are co-operating with each other in crucial areas of agriculture, industry, science and technology, defence, and human resource development to our mutual interest. The prospects of our economic and technical co-operation between us are bright and immense. Your Excellency's visit to India, accompanied by important Ministers of your Government and a strong business delegation augurs well for our future co-operation.

Excellency, after the end of the Cold War and with the approach of the new millennium, the world, we believe, is entering a new era of peace and co-operation. It is a matter of great satisfaction for us that India and Vietnam are closely co-operating with each other in the international fora. Both of us believe that in the emerging system of world co-operation the United Nations Organization occupies a central position. It is, therefore, important to strengthen the United Nations by making it reflect the realities of the present-day world and the aspirations of all peoples, particularly in the developing countries, for equality and justice. We are, therefore, highly appreciative of the stand taken by Vietnam on the question of reforming and restructuring the United Nations and we are grateful to you for the support you have given us for the inclusion of India in an expanded Security Council. We believe that due representation should be accorded to developing countries in the U.N. structure for the peace and stability of the world, and we have the honour to work together with Vietnam towards that objective.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast :

  • to the health, happiness and long life of His Excellency
    President Tran Duc Luong, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Madame Nguyen Thi Vinh;
  • to the well being and prosperity of the valiant people of Vietnam; and
  • to the strengthening of bilateral relations and everlasting friendship between our two peoples and countries.

    Thank you
Jai Hind