Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.jpg
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Photograph: EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered Vietnam a credit line of 500 million dollars to help the country strengthen its military capacity in the wake of growing tensions in the South China Sea.

The announcement was made during a joint press conference in Hanoi on Saturday between Modi and his Vietnamese counterpart Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

"We recognize the need to cooperate on responding to emerging regional challenges. As two important countries in this region, we also feel it necessary to further our ties on regional and international issues of common concern," said Modi, who is the first Indian prime minister to visit Vietnam in 15 years.

A separate agreement was signed on the provision of high-speed patrol boats by India as well as a number of other documents regarding economic and defence cooperation.

While Vietnam disputes China’s claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, India contests Chinese control of land in the Himalayas.

Although neither New Dehli nor Hanoi officially maintain allies as part of their policies of non-alignment, the two countries have enjoyed warm ties for decades.

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