03/11/2020, 13.12
VIETNAM – UNITED STATES
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Visit by US aircraft carrier to Đà Nẵng boosts ties with Washington

by Tran Hung

The two countries mark 25 years since the normalisation of diplomatic relations. The USS Roosevelt's visit follows that of the USS Vinson in March 2018. Hanoi plays a central role in the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. The two countries oppose China’s expansionism in the South China Sea. For US fleet commander, the US upholds Vietnam’s “sovereignty and independence”.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The second visit by a US aircraft carrier represents a boost to relations between Washington and Hanoi.

Organised to mark the 25th anniversary since the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the visit shows the central role Vietnam plays in the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt docked in the port of Đà Nẵng, a city in central Vietnam located at the mouth of the Hàn River, on 5 March and left four days later.

US sailors took part in cultural and professional exchanges, community service initiatives, sports competitions and receptions. US medical personnel also talked to Vietnamese health authorities about the coronavirus outbreak.

The official engagements began with a welcome ceremony led by Hồ Kồ Minh, vice chairman of the Đà Nẵng People's Committee. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ms Lê Thị Thu Hằng and representatives of the Armed Forces and government agencies were also present.

The US delegation was led by Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the Pacific Fleet, and included US ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink and Rear Admiral Stu Baker, commander of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9.

“This visit,” said Admiral Baker, “demonstrates the strength of our bilateral relations and highlights our continued cooperation with partner countries and our strong support for the region, including institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Vietnam is this year’s chair.”

At the same time, "It also serves as evidence of the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific where strong, independent nations respect one another's sovereignty, and uphold the rule of law.”

The USS Roosevelt's visit follows that of the USS Carl Vinson in March 2018, the first US warship to dock in a Vietnamese port since 1975.

The visit highlighted the growing strategic relationship between Hanoi and Washington, at a time when China's influence in the region is growing stronger.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarising the South China Sea and intimidating its Asian neighbours, which claim sovereignty over resource-rich areas.

Vietnam has become the main challenger to China's extensive claims and recently bought US-made military equipment.

Last year, Chinese reconnaissance flights on the Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) created tensions between the two countries that lasted for months.

On 6 March, during a telephonic briefing from the US Department of State’s Asia-Pacific Media Hub in Manila, Admiral Aquilino said that “This port call marks another significant milestone in our bilateral relationship, and it highlights our continued cooperation and strong support for Vietnam. “

Aquiline went to say that “The United States stands by Vietnam as it upholds its sovereignty and independence, while it exercises legitimate claims, in accordance with international law.  Our commitment to each other, including this week’s visits, will help ensure a stable, predictable, and durable relationship – again, based on mutual interests, values, and trust.”

“Overall, the United States’ free and open Indo-Pacific strategy is the foundational approach to ensure all nations in the region can execute their rights.  And specifically, for Vietnam, the United States supports a strong, sovereign, prosperous Vietnam.”

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