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US aircraft carrier to arrive in Vietnam for historic visit

IANS | Hanoi |

A US Navy aircraft carrier will set anchor in Vietnam on Monday, for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War more than four decades ago, the media reported.

The four-day visit by the USS Carl Vinson and its contingent of 5,000 sailors and aviators has been deemed as a historic opportunity to enhance the budding friendship that has emerged between the two former foes, reports CNN.

The 95,000-tonne carrier is expected to anchor two nautical miles off the port of Da Nang, which was a key battleground during the war that ended in 1975.

Cultural exchanges, including culinary and sporting activities, will take place between some of the US military personnel on board and their Vietnamese counterparts.

Some US sailors will also visit a centre for victims of Agent Orange, the toxic chemical compound used by the US during the conflict to destroy jungle and forest.

US military ties with Vietnam have deepened since 2016, when former President Barack Obama lifted the decades-old embargo on US arms sales to the country as part of his Asia pivot, reports CNN.

Under President Donald Trump, military cooperation with Hanoi has continued.

Despite pulling the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade deal that Vietnam was a key part of, Trump has maintained strong ties with Hanoi.

In November 2017, Trump visited Vietnam as part of his inaugural Asia trip aimed at reassuring allies that the US was still committed to the region, and in January, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also visited, laying the groundwork for this week’s visit by the USS Carl Vinson.