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Don't ascribe political angularity to Indian oil scouting: President

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Dont ascribe political angularity to Indian oil scouting: President
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On Board Air India One: India has been searching for oil and gas in the South China Sea for nearly three decades now and the move has no "political angularity", President Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday.

"There is one point... OVL has been active in the South China Sea since 1988. It is a commercial action, there is no political angularity to it," he said in response to a question on China's reported unhappiness over OVL, the overseas arm of Indian oil major ONGC, and Petro Vietnam inking an agreement on exploring two additional blocks off Vietnam during the president's just-concluded state visit to Vietnam.

With China and Vietnam not on the best of diplomatic terms over Beijing's claim to the whole of South China Sea, Mukherjee told journalists while returning from Vietnam that India has no comments on the issue and only hopes the issues are resolved peacefully according to the tenets of international law and practice.

"There is no scope for the use of force or the threat of use of force," he stressed.

In the joint communique released after delegation-level talks between Mukherjee and his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang Monday, the two countries had said freedom of navigation in the East Sea/South China Sea should not be impeded, and called the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid threat or use of force and resolve disputes through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law.

Mukherjee also said his visit to Vietnam and Chinese President Xi Jinping's India visit which began Wednesday were "not connected".

"They are totally independent... not connected. Our external relations are independent of relations with other countries. Indian foreign policy should not be viewed through prism of a third country.

"I don't find any connection between the two," he said.

During his Vietnam visit, India and Vietnam agreed to ramp up ties, called for a peaceful, unfettered South China Sea, and inked seven agreements including for direct Delhi-Hanoi flights, an extended line of credit for purchase of military equipment, and a letter of intent for two additional oil blocks as they set a target of $15 billion bilateral trade by 2020 with a focus on tourism, garments and textiles, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

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