Hanoi: Vietnam president Truong Tan Sang has said India and other foreign nations were welcome to explore hydrocarbons in areas within his country's jurisdiction. His comments were made just ahead of his maiden state visit to India starting Tuesday, and notwithstanding Chinese belligerence on the issue.
President Sang said the objectives of his trip were to continue to strengthen friendship between the two peoples, reinforce, deepen and add greater substance to bilateral strategic partnership.
"This visit takes place in the context that the time- honoured traditional friendship and strategic partnership between Vietnam and India are witnessing strong growth in all areas for the sake of peace, stability, cooperation and development," Sang told Indian agency PTI in an interview.
"We note with satisfaction the fine developments of the strategic partnership between the two countries in all areas, including security - defence," he said.
The high-level visit comes at a time when both India and Vietnam are experiencing difficulties in managing bilateral relations with China.
President Sang defended Hanoi's deal with India over two Vietnamese oil blocks in the East Sea (China's South China Sea) which have now become controversial with Chinese authorities raising objections claiming the blocks were in their area.
Commenting on the controversy, Sang said: "It is a fact that all cooperation projects between Vietnam and other partners including ONGC in the field of oil and gas are located on the continental shelf, within the exclusive economic zone and under the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam, entirely in conformity with international laws, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea."