The Indian desire to deepen its ties with Vietnam, especially in the oil sector, was conveyed to the top leadership here by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"External Affairs Minister mentioned that India is already engaged and is committed to continue cooperation with Vietnam (in oil sector) and also is looking to expand its cooperation with Vietnam in this sector," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

He said both sides also discussed briefly the five oil blocks which Vietnam had offered to India during the visit of Secretary General of Vietnamese Communist party Nguyen Phu Trong, last November.

"OVL (ONGC Videsh Limited) is looking at them in terms of their feasibility and there is in touch to see how to proceed further," he said.

Asked if the new oil blocks are situated in the disputed territory of South China Sea, Akbaruddin said, "These have to be assessed. These are, according to Vietnam, within their domain."

Swaraj's visit to Vietnam comes just days after Hanoi renewed India's lease of two oil blocks in South China Sea for another year.

China and Vietnam have an acrimonious relationship due to their standoff over the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons.

China has been objecting any activity in South China Sea region including Indian oil exploration as it has territorial disputes with some ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

Terming the South China Sea as a disputed region, China had in March 2012 warned India to refrain from undertaking oil exploration in the resource-rich Vietnamese blocks in order to ensure peace and stability in the area.

"The area is disputed one. So we do not think that it would be good for India to do (explore oil) that," then Deputy Director General of Asian Department in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong had said.

Earlier in February this year, a Chinese government think-tank researcher had warned India against participation in oil projects with Vietnamese government on the disputed islands of the South China Sea.

Incidentally, during her meetings with her Vietnamese counterpart and Deputy Prime Minster Pham Binh Minh, Swaraj was shown a presentation on the South China Sea.

Swaraj reiterated India's stand is pretty clear that it is not party to this dispute in the South China sea.

"However, we feel that the parties to this dispute should resolve this peacefully. They should work within the parameters of international law including UNCLOS, and pending this issue being resolved, we hope that nothing will be done to undermine the freedom of navigation...," Akbaruddin said explaining India's stand.

He said the Vietnamese side was which very appreciative of India's stand.

India was given two oil blocks nearly four years ago but the Indian company had then felt that it was not commercially viable. However, the Indian company has changed its stance since then and have now gone in for a renewal of the two-year lease that ended in June by another one year for the feasabilitay study of the exploration.

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