In the backdrop of China’s aggressive posturing in the South China Sea, India and Vietnam on Saturday identified maritime security as one of the major areas in which they could cooperate as the two strategic partners inked three major accords, including one on nuclear cooperation.

“We will work towards an open, independent and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where there is respect for sovereignty and international law, and where disputes are solved with dialogue,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi after wide-ranging talks with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang here.

His visit comes close on the heels of Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s trip to New Delhi in January as one of the chief guests on Republic Day. The two leaders also stressed the need for enhancing cooperation between the two countries in defence.

This assumes significance in view of the fact that Vietnam has from time to time expressed its desire to purchase BrahMos supersonic missiles from India.

Modi said India and Vietnam would explore the possibility of co-production and transfer of technology in defence manufacturing.

Both nations expressed their commitment to ensuring that respect for sovereignty and international law continues to be upheld, in an indirect reference to China’s continued attempts to browbeat its neighbours, especially Vietnam, in matters concerning the South China Sea. “We are considering close cooperation in areas to address regional security challenges, including maritime security and cyber-security,” President Quang said.

The PM said that Vietnam has an important place in India’s framework of Act East policy and India’s relations with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The two countries also agreed to strengthen relations in different sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, textiles and petroleum.

“In oil and gas sector, not only we will strengthen our long-standing bilateral relations but also work along with other nations on trilateral possibilities,” the PM said.

The Vietnamese President said that the two nations are striving to bring bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2020. He underlined his country’s commitment to creating favourable conditions for businesses in areas ranging from information technology to infrastructure.