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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More