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Vietnam Today

US aircraft carrier may pay March visit

Released at: 19:56, 25/01/2018

US aircraft carrier may pay March visit

An aircraft carrier of the US Navy (Source: Internet)

Proposed visit the first by a carrier since liberation in 1975.

by Quang Huy

The US will send an aircraft carrier to Vietnam in a post-war first, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on January 25; evidence of deepening military ties between the former enemies more than four decades after the American War ended.

The announcement came during a two-day visit to Hanoi by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The proposed visit by an aircraft carrier is set for March at the central port of Da Nang, the defense ministry said in its statement. 

“From post-war legacy issues to what Minister of Defense Ngo Xuan Lich called the positive trajectory of our military-to-military relations, I’m confident we’re on the right path,” Mr. Mattis told State President Tran Dai Quang after meeting Minister Lich.

Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the carrier visit was discussed by Mr. Mattis and his counterpart and that Vietnam’s defense ministry was seeking final approval from national leaders.

“We expect it will be approved and we will have a carrier visit in Da Nang in March,” Mr. Davis said. The prospect surfaced when US President Donald Trump met Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House last May, and talks continued when Minister Lich met Mr. Mattis in Washington in August.

Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh became the country’s highest-ranking official to tour a US carrier when he led eleven Vietnamese officials to watch flight operations aboard the USS Carl Vinson off southern California last October, the US Navy said at the time.

Although no US aircraft carrier has been to Vietnam since the end of the war, other, smaller US warships have made high-level visits as ties improved in recent years.

That includes a 2016 visit by submarine tender USS Frank Cable and guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain to Cam Ranh Bay, near Nha Trang, which was a naval base during the war.

“Vietnam does have one of the region’s fastest-growing economies and so freedom of navigation and access in the South China Sea [East Sea] will be critical to them economically and of course in their security efforts,” Mr. Mattis said before his arrival on January 24.

Vietnam and the US normalized diplomatic relations in July 1995, 20 years after liberation. The relationship has been solidified in recent times, with former US President Barack Obama fully lifting the US ban on weapons sales to Vietnam during an official trip in May 2016, while President Trump witnessed the signing of a number of trade deals when he was in Hanoi last November.

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