India to Aid Vietnam Naval Expansion -The New Indian Express NEW DELHI: As the Chinese President tours South Asia, India and Vietnam are furiously working towards finalising modalities for the $100 million line of credit to purchase patrol boats, which would inevitably be deployed in the disputed South China Sea. If finalised, this would be part of Vietnam’s planned expansion of its Naval capacity, a direct outcome of China’s increasing assertiveness, which has led to several high-sea confrontations. In a diplomatic twist, while Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived in Maldives on the first leg of his South Asia tour, President Pranab Mukherjee reached Vietnam on Sunday evening. Later this week, Mukherjee will play host to Xi at Rashtrapati Bhavan. India had offered the $100 million line of credit during Vietnam Prime Minister’s visit last year. But the negotiations on the terms and conditions are still under way. “We will be discussing the modalities certainly and will see if we can finalise it during the visit,” said a senior government official. The credit will be used to buy about ‘four or five’ patrol boats, urgently required by Vietnam to man its maritime border. In fact, last month, Japan had also pledged to provide six used vessels to support Vietnamese Coast Guard. In between, President Pranab’s Vietnam visit adds another layer to September’s busy schedule-- demonstrating the complex geopolitics of the region. Vietnam has been steadily implementing its plan to have a credible Naval deterrent-- with plans to buy six kilo-class submarines from Russia. India has a role even here, with 500 submariners for the new fleet to be trained here. The first batch of 100 are already undergoing training in Vishakapatnam. As a small nation, Vietnam has always been interested in getting more outside countries to be involved in South China Sea issue, which flared up this year after Beijing set up an oil rig in waters claimed by Hanoi. There were several high-sea hijinks, with Vietnamese CG vessels coming off the worst in the confrontations. During this visit, Vietnam and India will also sign a letter of intent for two additional offshore blocks. While the location of the two have not yet been notified, sources indicated that New Delhi had no compunction to take them up even if they fell within Beijing’s nine-dash line. The previous two blocks, for which contract has been renewed by a year, had also fallen in areas claimed by China as part of its historical footprint. India has a clear position on South China Sea that all territorial disputes should be resolved under international law, which means the Law of the Sea convention, which is not favoured by Beijing, will be followed.