S China Sea row churns, Ansari to visit Vietnam

Vice-President Hamid Ansari will be going on his first visit, in his second term, to Vietnam next month, signalling New Delhi's growing close relations with Hanoi. This visit assumes significance in the wake of Vietnam's tough stance against China on the territorial dispute over South China Sea.

A decision has been taken to schedule the Vice-President's visit in January third week, sources said, and could be held as early as January 14. He is likely to visit Hanoi as well as Ho Chi Minh city, which is home to the Indian community.

South Block considers Vietnam a key partner in South-east Asia, evident from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with the visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, on the sidelines of the Indo-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on December 21.

In fact, Vietnam was the only country last week, which had sought New Delhi's "support" in the "full implementation" of the code of conduct in South China Sea.

Furious over Chinese passports showing South China Sea as part of Chinese waters, Vietnam had last month issued stapled visas to travellers to the neighbouring country, an idea copied from India.

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