New Delhi, Jul 4 (PTI) India and Vietnam today explored ways to deepen defence cooperation and deliberated on the situation in the disputed South China Sea which is witnessing growing Chinese assertiveness.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley held talks with Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh during which various aspects of defence cooperation between the two countries were discussed.

The two sides also deliberated on the regional security situation and explored ways to further boost defence cooperation, sources said.

Vietnam is also a party to the dispute involving territorial claims by China in the resource-rich South China Sea where India has commercial interests.

Pham Binh, who is also Vietnam’s foreign minister, is understood to have apprised Jaitley about the situation in South China Sea.

The security cooperation between India and Vietnam is on an upswing and earlier this year the two countries elevated their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to respond to emerging regional challenges.

While China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, the other countries laying claim over parts of the area are Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

China has increased its assertiveness in the South China Sea in the last couple of years.

It has scrambled naval ships and military jets to “warn off” a US missile destroyer sailing close to an artificial island built by it in the disputed area.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement late Sunday night that China had dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the US vessel. Separately, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre met senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs of Singapore Maliki Osman and discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in the areas of defence and security.

Bhamre also meet Industry Minister of Belarus Vitaly Vovk and discussed possible cooperation in the areas of defence production.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.