Navy Chief Sunil Lanba Embarks On Five Day Visit To VietnamAdmiral Sunil Lanba (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba today (3 October) began a five-day visit to Vietnam with an aim to further boost defence cooperation between the two Asian countries.

Lanba, who is also chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, will meet Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich, Chief of General Staff and Vice Minister of National Defence Van Giang. He will also hold extensive talks with Rear Admiral Pham Hoai Nam, Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnam Navy, the Navy said.

Lanba's visit comes amid increasing assertiveness by China in the resource-rich South China Sea and the issue is likely to be discussed in his talks with Vietnamese leaders.

China's claims over the South China Sea are opposed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China has been also objecting to India's oil exploration projects in the disputed waters. India has been calling for resolving the maritime dispute peacefully in accordance with international law.

"The visit aims to consolidate cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Vietnam and also to explore new avenues of defence cooperation," the Navy statement said.

Lanba will also visit the National Defence Academy of Vietnam, where he will interact with student officers and faculty members and deliver a talk on the 'Importance of Maritime Power'.

Defence cooperation between India and Vietnam has been on an upswing with the primary focus being cooperation in the maritime domain. India and Vietnam had signed a protocol on defence cooperation in 1994. The partnership was thereafter elevated to strategic level in 2007 and a pact on bilateral boosting defence cooperation was signed in 2009.

The strategic partnership was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September 2016. The Indian Navy cooperates with the Vietnam People's Navy on many issues, which include operational interactions and training.

Warships from Indian Navy have been regularly visiting ports at Vietnam, with Indian Naval Ships Satpura and Kadmat recently making port call at Hai Phong from 23 to 27 September.

The Vietnamese Navy ship Dinh Tien Hoang, a Gepoard Class Frigate, also visited Visakhapatnam in February 2016, for participation in the 'International Fleet Review - 2016'. PTI

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