India President Leaves Vietnam After Controversial Oil Deal

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has wrapped up a four-day state visit to Vietnam and departed for home after signing key pacts and a joint resolution on the South China Sea.

During his stay in Vietnam, both sides signed important deals in the sectors of defense procurement, air connectivity and oil exploration, including a letter of intent between the ONGC Videsh and Petro Vietnam for oil exploration in two locations off the Vietnamese coast.

The two nations also released a joint resolution which called for free navigation in disputed waters of South China Sea, where Vietnam and other nations are involved in tense maritime territorial disputes with China.

Beijing said Tuesday it will not recognize the oil deal because the agreement involves territory China claims as its own.

However, Carl Thayer from the Australian Defense Force Academy  says in an interview with VOA’s Vietnamese service that the  objection by Beijing will not disrupt the oil deal.

“India is not going to pull out because of Chinese pressures. There’s little that China can do unless it wants to resort to physical intimidation and try to disrupt the oil activities itself, which would open up [new problems],” said Thayer.

He added that China could decide to make already strained relations with Vietnam worse, but that it won’t solve Beijing’s problems because India will still be there on the ground.”

It is not clear where the two oil wells will be located. China has conveyed similar objections about previous sites allotted to the Indian company by Hanoi.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Vietnamese service.

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