India and Vietnam signed an oil exploration pact in defiance of Chinese opposition to an Indo-Vietnamese drilling project in the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Wednesday, along with a number of bilateral agreements aimed at boosting India-Vietnam relations.
The pact between the Indian and Vietnamese state-owned oil companies includes new investments and the exploration and supply of oil and gas to the two countries, the Associated Press said.
The agreements were announced after Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang, who is on a three-day visit to India, held comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India's Zee TV reported.
The two leaders discussed many bilateral issues of "mutual interest", including strengthening ties in defense, science and technology, and culture, the news channel said.
At a joint press conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the India-Vietnam relationship "a factor of peace, stability and development" in the Asia-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, with the general secretary of Vietnam's communist party on a concurrent visit to Beijing, China and Vietnam signed an agreement resolving tensions over the South China Sea, according to the BBC.
The deal outlines a series of measures, including a hotline to deal with emergencies and a provision for authorities from both countries to meet twice a year, the news channel said. Any final agreement on maritime borders should be based on international law, the deal says - and be acceptable to both sides.
For months, tempers have been running hot over the South China Sea, which potentially holds vast oil and gas reserves, and is an important shipping route. China has employed bellicose rhetoric to try to induce India to scrap its joint exploration projects with Vietnam in the area, and China's navy reportedly "buzzed" an Indian ship operating in the area this summer.