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Visiting Vietnamese foreign minister was born in India

New Delhi,Diplomacy, Fri, 12 Jul 2013 IANS

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) For Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, his current India visit is a sort of homecoming. He was born in India to the then Vietnamese envoy in India who then went to become that country's foreign minister.

Acknowledging his "personal" connections with India, the minister told an audience of scholars and diplomats at Sapru House Friday that their founding leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and and Ho Chi-Minh laid the foundation of Vietnam- India ties through their warm personal friendship

He said he was reminded of the "stories of beautiful India" by his father who was Vietnam's first diplomatic envoy to India. "This relationship matters to me at a personal level, and I am proud to inherit this legacy," he said.

Welcoming him, Rajiv Bhatia, director-general of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), recalled the services in India of Nguyen Co Thach, who was ambassador when Vietnam's greatest leader, President Ho Chi-Minh, visited India in February 1958.

"Our research indicates that the ace diplomat who served as the Consul General of Democratic Republic of Vietnam in India during 1956-60, was none other than Mr. Nguyen Co Thach. He later rose to become the Foreign Minister of Vietnam and served in that capacity from 1980-199," Bhatia said.

"When Mr. Co Thach was serving in New Delhi, his son was born, and who too, in the fullness of time, rose to occupy the position of his country's foreign minister. Indeed a worthy son to a worthy father! He is amidst us today - our distinguished guest, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh."

Bhatia recalled the importance India accorded to the visit of Ho Chi-minh when both President Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru were at the airport to receive the "legendary figure", as Nehru described him. Ho Chi-minh also visited the ICWA and delivered an important address on Feb 7, 1958 at Sapru House.

For Pham Vinh Minh, this is his first visit to India as foreign minister. He is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and also served as the country's ambassador to the UN. He comes at a time when strategic partnership between India and Vietnam is clearly on an upward trajectory.

Aftab Seth, former Indian envoy to Vietnam, said trade relations had grown between India and Vietnam, from $150 million in the 1980s to now a "healthy" over $ 6 billion.

He said ONGC has also increased its presence in the oil and gas sector of Vietnam since it began operations in 1988.

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