Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev stopped briefly in India yesterday and then flew on for talks with high-ranking government and military leaders in Vietnam. The two stops mark the beginning of a six-day tour of the Asian-Pacific region by the Russian defense chief. He is to depart from Vietnam later today, and will continue on to Beijing for three days of talks with Chinese leaders. During his brief stop in New Delhi yesterday Sergeev and Indian Defense Minister Ajit Kumar reiterated their commitment to Russian-Indian military cooperation. The two sides reportedly discussed a draft agreement which will extend a program of Indian-Russian cooperation in the defense sphere until the year 2010. The accord could be finalized during a planned visit to India by President Boris Yeltsin in December (Itar-Tass, October 20).
Military-technical cooperation was also on the agenda during Sergeev’s consultations yesterday in Hanoi. Those talks reportedly included negotiations in which Moscow hopes as well to extend its usage of the naval base at Cam Ranh bay. Retention of this facility “answers the interests of both Russia and Vietnam,” Sergeev said, “insofar as it would serve as a factor of stability in the region.” The current agreement governing Russia’s use of the naval base was signed in 1981. It is to last until the year 2004 (Russian agencies, October 20).
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