On November 24, 2018, the President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind, along with the first Lady Savita Kovind and other dignitaries, concluded his 7-day maiden official visit to ASEAN country of Vietnam and Australia.
i. His visit can be categorized as follows:
- 3-day official visit to Vietnam from November 18-20, 2018 and
- 4-day official visit to Australia from November 21-24, 2018.
ii. President’s visit is part of India’s continuing and growing engagement with countries in the Indo-Pacific region under its “Act East” Policy.
iii. This was the first visit of President to an ASEAN country and also to Australia since assuming office.
iv. He was accompanied by Shri Anant Kumar Hegde, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Members of Parliament and senior officials of Government of India.
3-day Visit to Vietnam (November 18-20, 2018):
On November 18, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind reached Da Nang in Vietnam on the first leg of his two-nation visit.
i. He visited Vietnam on the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong who was elected as President on October 2018.
ii. On November 19, 2018, he visited My son, which has Indian influence and houses Hindu deities like Shiva, Krishna and Vishnu, and the Museum of Cham Culture in Da Nang which is famous for its world heritage site.
Addressing Vietnam-India business forum:
On November 19, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the Vietnam-India Business Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam.
i. In his address, he discussed the following:
- He invited Vietnam to collaborate in the flagship programmes like – Make In India, Clean India, Start-up India and Digital India.
Address at the National Assembly of Vietnam:
On November 20, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind addressed National Assembly of Vietnam.
i. He congratulated General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong for her win in the Presidential election.
ii. He discussed on the following topics:
- Climate Change,
- Digital India,
- Enhanced bilateral cooperation in the maritime domain through first Bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue to be hosted by Vietnam in early 2019,
- India’s support to Vietnam as it takes over the ASEAN Chair in 2020,
- Promotion of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region,
- Acknowledging Vietnam’s support for an early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations,
- Cooperation in textiles and agriculture and agricultural technologies, bio-tech, IT, energy, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and minerals,
Meeting with President Phu Trong:
On November 20, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind held delegation level talks with President Phu Trong at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam.
i. They discussed on the following:
- Bilateral cooperation in defence, peaceful uses of atomic energy and outer space, science and technology, oil and gas, infrastructure development, agriculture and innovation-based sectors were agreed on.
- Deepening of defence and security cooperation was agreed on.
- India would provide training support for Vietnam Armed Forces.
- Review of implementation of the Line of Credit of US Dollars 100 million for building high-speed patrol vessels for Vietnamese Border Guards was done.
ii. He also suggested reviving maritime connect with Vietnam which will increase the bilateral trade from the current $ 12.8 billion to a target of US Dollars 15 billion by 2020.
iii. The 2 sides reaffirmed mutual support for their respective candidatures as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council –Viet Nam for the term of 2020 – 2021 and India for the term of 2021 – 2022.
iv. The President of India reaffirmed the Indian Government’s commitment to provide around 200 annual scholarships to Viet Nam through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC) and 30 scholarships through the Cultural Exchange Program/ General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (CEP/GCSS) Program.
4 key agreements signed during President Kovind’s maiden 3-day Vietnam visit:
After the meeting between the Presidents of the India and Vietnam, 4 agreements were signed in the fields of communications, education and trade and investment. They were:
- Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam and India’s Ministry of Communications for communication.
- Cooperation between the Department of Foreign Affairs of Provinces, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam.
- Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics in Hanoi and New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University for an educational agreement.
- The Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The President of India also participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of National Heroes and at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
♦ Capital: Hanoi.
♦ Capital: Vietnamese dong.
4-day Visit to Australia (November 21-24, 2018)
On November 21, 2018, President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind paid a 4-day state visit to the Commonwealth of Australia at the invitation of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove.
- This was the first ever visit of President of India to Australia.
- President Kovind laid wreath at the ANZAC Memorial and paid homage for fallen soldiers of WWI at Sydney. In the meeting, President conveyed India’s decision to contribute additional AUD 10 million matching funds over the next 4 years towards Australia India Strategic Research Fund.
- He also addressed the Indian community at Sydney.
- On November 22, 2018, President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parramatta.
Meeting with the Governor General:
On November 22, 2018, President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind held delegation level talks with Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove in Sydney.
i. In the meeting, President conveyed India’s decision to contribute additional AUD 10 million matching funds over the next 4 years towards Australia India Strategic Research Fund.
Other Addresses by the President:
On November 22, 2018, the President also delivered his address at the Australian Financial Review India Business Summit in Sydney.
i. The India Business Summit 2018 organized by Australian Financial Review on India-Australia economic engagement.
ii. Here, the following took place:
- President welcomed Prime Minister Morrison’s proposal of “India Economic Strategy To 2035” to increase the Australian investment from current AUD 10 billion to 100 billion by 2035.
iii. He also attended the Australia-India Business Council dinner event hosted in his honour in Sydney.
Address at University of Melbourne:
On November 23, 2018, He also spoke at University of Melbourne on the topic ”Australia and India as Knowledge Partners”
5 Agreements signed on President Kovind’s maiden 4-day visit to Australia:
As part of President Kovind’s visit, 5 agreements have been concluded between India and Australia. These are:
- An agreement between the Department of Empowerment of persons with Disabilities, Government of India and the Department of Social Services , Government of Australia for cooperation in the area of disability and to deliver services to the differently-abled.
- An agreement between Invest India and Austrade to facilitate bilateral investment
- An agreement between the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), based in Ranchi, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO),based in Canberra, for scientific collaboration and innovation
- An agreement between the Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur, and the University of Western Australia, Perth, for cooperation in agricultural research and education
- A Joint PhD agreement between the Indraprashta Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIITD),and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane.
Kovind announced to attend an international cricket match abroad upon his visit to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the T20 game between India and Australia thus becoming the first Indian president to attend cricket match live abroad.
♦ Capital: Canberra.
♦ Currency: Australian dollar.