News / USA

    Former Enemies Vietnam, US Ramp Up Defense Ties

    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, gives a Vietnam War memorabilia of a Vietnamese soldier to his counterpart Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 4, 2012.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, gives a Vietnam War memorabilia of a Vietnamese soldier to his counterpart Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 4, 2012.
    Marianne Brown
    HANOI, Vietnam - Defense chiefs from former foes Vietnam and the United States met Monday in Hanoi to ramp up ties at a time of rising tensions in the South China Sea.

    In Hanoi’s searing hot mid-morning sunshine, defense chiefs of two nations once at war took part in a poignant exchange of war memorabilia, the diary of a Vietnamese soldier killed in action and letters written by an American officer serving in Vietnam.

    The symbolic gesture was part of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to the country following the annual Shangri-La defense dialogue in Singapore.

    Panetta's arrival on Vietnam Sunday marked a symbolic deepening of ties between the two when he became the highest ranking American official since the war to visit Vietnam’s commercial deepwater port, Cam Ranh Bay.

    He visited the USNS Richard E. Byrd, a civilian crewed naval cargo ship currently undergoing maintenance at the port.

    “The fact that this ship is here in Cam Ranh bay, and is being serviced by contractors here in this location and the repair work is being done by our Vietnamese friends, that is a tremendous indication of how far we have come,” said Panetta.

    The ship is the fifth vessel to be repaired in Vietnam after the country agreed to conduct minor repairs on non-combatant U.S. Navy ships.

    By allowing this visit, Vietnam is making a statement that the United States has a legitimate interest in the maritime affairs of the South China Sea, says regional security analyst, professor Carl Thayer.

    “China is saying the U.S. is an outsider and shouldn’t get involved and so for Vietnam instead of having to align with the United States to balance China it does what it does best, it tells the U.S., 'your interests are to provide security, go to it! And we’ll give you facilities to repair ships,'" he said.

    Panetta’s trip to Vietnam comes after a weekend announcement that the U.S. Navy would shift the majority of its ships to the Pacific by 2020 as part of a strategic focus on Asia.

    He stressed the move was part of a broader global re-balancing rather than a strategy of containing China because of its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    Speaking with reporters in Hanoi, Panetta said the U.S. considers itself a member of the family of Pacific nations and wants to increase peace and prosperity in the region.

    "The key to that is that we have a shared group of values and principles that all countries have to abide by and we will always continue to follow international rule, international regulations and international law," said Panetta.

    China claims much of the resource-rich South China Sea as its own territory, and Chinese fishermen and government exploration ships have come into conflict with vessels from neighboring countries in recent years. Chinese officials have said the territorial dispute does not concern the United States.

    But in Beijing Monday, Liu Weimin from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the U.S. defense secretary's visit by saying peace, cooperation and development are trends of the times.

    He says the Asia Pacific is where Chinese and American interests converge the most and he hopes the United States will respect the interests of all people in the Pacific - including those of China.

    Vietnam and the United States may have a lot to gain in gradually strengthening ties, but this will only go so far, says Thayer.

    Vietnam Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh says he hopes the U.S. will soon lift restrictions on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam, but Professor Carl Thayer is doubtful this will happen any time soon. 

    “American equipment is too expensive," said Thayer. "It’s a whole new different technology. Staying with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, it’s all compatible equipment, it all goes back to the Soviet era.”

    He says the recent country report on human rights in Vietnam issued by the State Department does not support changing U.S. policy. And, with an election looming in November, he says it is unlikely Washington will make a significant shift in its relationship with Vietnam anytime soon.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: SomeDay from: U.S.
    June 04, 2012 3:04 PM
    U.S. know really well that it needs Vietnam to contain China in Southeast Asia. Out of the 11 nations in the ASEAN group, Vietnam has the most military experiences as well as the know how to fight the Chinese well. In addition to that, Vietnam is right next to China, with its location such as the Cam Ranh Bay, China won't be easy to bully its neighbors with the U.S. military present in Vietnam. Within 2 years, the U.S. will lift the arms embargo on Vietnam and what Vietnam needs from the U.S. are sophisticated rada systems, anti ships missiles, ...

    Once again, Vietnam is about to show to the world that it can stand up against the Chinese invasion just like it did for centuries.


    by: Vaméri from: US
    June 04, 2012 12:22 PM
    If US really needs to contain China, reduces world stability threats from China, US needs Vietnemese crazy fighters. Vietnamese are Chinese haters traditionally.Vietnam today also is facing Chinese threat of invasion on land and at sea.Vietnamese views US Navy as their rescuers, helping to stop Chinese sea pirates, aggessors.

    by: Ctrylwyr from: Salem, VA USA
    June 04, 2012 11:08 AM
    It is in both country's interests that they cooperate. I do not agree with the experts assessment that Vietnam should stay with Russian technology, however. When Vietnam was reunited in 1975 several billions of dollars of American military hardware remained in the country...planes, tanks, and other complex equipment. Vietnam legitimately wants to modernize its American arsenal.

    by: Valdez from: Miami
    June 04, 2012 9:57 AM
    But yet, the US continues their full economic and political embargo against Cuba.
    Cuba has never been responsible for the death of a single American.
    That just proves how illogical US foreign policy tends to be.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.