New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong and exchanged views on regional and global issues, including the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the situation in the South China Sea. In a telephonic conversation, the two leaders expressed satisfaction at the rapid pace of comprehensive cooperation under the India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which was established during Modi’s visit to Vietnam in 2016, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

They congratulated each other on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi reiterated the importance of Vietnam as an important pillar of India’s Act East policy and Indo-Pacific vision and sought to widen the scope of bilateral relations, in addition to working towards accelerated progress on existing initiatives. The Prime Minister also requested for greater facilitation of market access for India’s pharma and agricultural products in Vietnam, the statement said.

Prime Minister Modi highlighted the historical and civilizational ties between the two countries and expressed happiness over India’s participation in the restoration of Cham monuments in Vietnam. The PMO said the leaders agreed to enhance the defense partnership between the two countries. They also exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest, including the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the situation in the South China Sea, the statement said. China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, which is a major source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN member states, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counter claims.