India, Brunei ink pacts on Defence, Health and Sports

Rajat Kain

File photo of Vice President of India, Md. Hamid Ansari, Photo-PTI

File photo of Vice President of India, Md. Hamid Ansari,

On a historic state-level visit to Brunei Darussalam, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari called upon Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkhiah as both the nations sealed three significant Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the Defense, Health and Sports sectors. A first ever by any Indian Vice President, the visit is seen as a bid to strengthen further already string ties between the two countries.

“The purpose of this MoU is to enhance defense cooperation between Indian and Brunei in various fields. Cooperation already exists in the form of naval ship visits, training of senior military officers in staff colleges and exchange of experience,” Secretary (West) MEA Anil Wadhva told the press after the signing of agreements Tuesday evening.

Speaking further over the agreements signed in the sphere of health and sports, Anil Wadhva added that the objective of this MoU is to establish cooperation “by the means of pooling the health care, medical education and research”.

The agreements were signed between the two sides after the meeting between the Vice President and Haji Mohamed Taib, the Speaker of State Legislative Council of Brunei Darussalam at Hotel Empire in Jerdong.

Earlier in the day, the Vice President of India called upon the monarch of Brunei at his majestic palace. During the meeting, the two sides took up extending further the cooperation in the areas of investment and trade. Importantly, the investment delegation from India will soon visit India to study the feasibility of manufacturing fertilizers locally.

Both the countries also affirmed their commitments on number of international and strategic issues, especially concerns over terrorism across the region.

On the issue of South China Sea, Brunei agreed that “all the parties concern should solve the issue amicably,” told Anil Wadhwa.

VP Ansari also met with Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah at his palace Qashr al Meezan. During the meeting, the latter expressed desire to visit India, carrying forward the three decades old diplomatic and strategic ties between the two countries. It is expected that the crown prince will be paying a visit to India soon.

After his meeting with Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Vice President visited Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of Brunei.

Later in the evening VP Ansari addressed Indian community in Brunei at the reception hosted by the High Commission of India.

The Vice President will now address the a lecture at the University of Brunei on Wednesday morning after which he will proceed for the second leg of the tour in Thailand. The Vice President is slated to hold the meeting with the Prime Minister of Thailand later in the day.