06/01/2015, 00.00
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Washington showers millions on Hanoi to buy military vessels and counter China

Ash Carter, head of the Pentagon, announces the dispatch of a first tranche of 18 million euro. It is the second trip to Asia in a few months, confirming Washington’s interest in the Asia-Pacific region. Strategic partnership being considered between the US and Vietnam, once great rivals.

Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United States is ready to allocate tens of millions of euro to Vietnam, to assist Hanoi in the purchase of military ships to patrol the disputed waters in the Asia-Pacific region. This has been confirmed by the Defense Secretary,  Ash Carter, who promised to send a first tranche of 18 million dollars. The announcement came during a visit aboard a Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel, targeted in the past by Beijing Navy ships during a clash in the waters of the South China Sea.

The Pentagon chief is on a 11 day visit in several Asia-Pacific countries, focusing on the issues of defense and security in the region. He has visited the headquarters of the Vietnamese Navy and Coast Guard, before boarding boat. Carter is on his second trip to Asia since the beginning of the year, confirming the White House’s interest in the continent.

For some time, Washington and Hanoi, the protagonists in the '70s of a bloody war in Indochina, have re-established economic and military ties, with the sale of weapons and a strategic partnership in various fields. "We have modernized our cooperation," said the senior US official, according to whom  "after 20 years, we can do many things together."

In the context of the visit to Vietnam, Carter and Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh, number two of the local Communist Party, also signed a "vision statement" that will program military cooperation between the two countries, which were once great rivals.

Concern over China’s “imperialism” in the East and South China Seas has been expressed by both the Philippines and Vietnam for quite some time now. However, Manila went one step further and took its dispute to a UN tribunal, albeit one without binding authority.

Broadly speaking, China claims a large chunk of the South and East China Seas (almost 85 per cent), including the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

Southeast Asian nations are backed by the United States. Washington rejects as “illegal" and "irrational" Beijing’s “cow tongue” claim in the South China Sea, which amounts to 80 per cent of 3.5-million km2 wide-sea.

With oil and gas in the seabed, the region has great economic and geopolitical importance with a total turnover of over 5 trillion dollars, and carries an important strategic value.

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