US aircraft carrier to make historic port call in Vietnam this year

By Viet Anh   January 18, 2018 | 07:50 pm PT
US aircraft carrier to make historic port call in Vietnam this year
A U.S. aircraft carrier transits the Pacific Ocean on January 30, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tom Tonthat/Handout via Reuters
One U.S. expert claims the visit will take place in March, but the Vietnamese foreign ministry has not confirmed a date.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry is still finalizing a date for a U.S. aircraft carrier to visit this year, according to a ministry spokesperson.

Le Thi Thu Hang told a press briefing on Thursday that the visit will reflect Vietnam’s “independent and diverse” foreign policies, and how it develops ties with partners based on peace and stability for the region and the world.

The visit will be the first by a U.S. aircraft carrier to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War.

Defense chiefs from Vietnam and the U.S. agreed on the visit last year to demonstrate improved relationships, the Pentagon said in August.

Questions over the timeline were raised after Amy Searight, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday that a U.S. aircraft carrier will visit Vietnam in March.

Mary Tarnowka, U.S. Consul General in HCMC, said at the same conference that U.S. Secretary of Defense Norman Mattis will pay a visit to Vietnam next week.

But Hang from the foreign ministry said details of his visit will be provided later by Vietnam’s defense ministry.

Vietnam and the U.S. normalized diplomatic relations in July 1995, after 20 years of severed ties.

The relationship has been solidified in recent years, with the U.S. making its presence known in Asia to counter the rising China. President Obama fully lifted the U.S. ban on weapons sales to Vietnam during an official trip in May 2016, while Donald Trump witnessed a number of trade deals when he was in Hanoi last November.

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