Panetta to visit former US base in Vietnam

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will travel on Sunday to Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay, a major base for American forces in the Vietnam War, underscoring improved ties between the former enemies.

Panetta is the most high-ranking US official to visit Cam Ranh Bay since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

The two countries signed a memorandum on defence cooperation last year and Panetta planned to discuss how to carry out the agreement during his two-day visit, officials said.

"We've had a great trajectory with Vietnam over a number of years," said a senior US defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Seventeen years into normalisation of relations, we really have a robust relationship with the Vietnamese government as a whole and our mil-to-mil (military) relationship is really healthy as well," the official said.

Cam Ranh Bay airfield, one of three main hubs used by US forces in the war, once hosted squadrons of fighter jets, cargo planes and troops at the height of the Vietnam conflict.

The Vietnamese handed over the air base and naval port to the Soviet Union after the war, with Moscow deploying fighter jets, nuclear submarines and a spy station during the Cold War.

The Russians left the base in 2002 and Vietnam has decided to open the port on a commercial basis to foreign naval ships to resupply and undergo repair work.

Panetta was due to visit an American naval cargo ship currently at the port, the USNS Richard E. Byrd, which moves cargo for the naval fleet with a mostly civilian crew, officials said.

The Cam Ranh Bay base lies in of one of the region's best natural harbours and the United States sees it an ideal spot to bolster an American naval presence in the strategically vital South China Sea.

China claims all of the South China Sea, which is believed to encompass huge oil and gas reserves. One-third of global seaborne trade passes through the region.

Hanoi and Beijing have rival claims to the Spratly Islands and a long-standing dispute over the Paracel island group.

A more aggressive approach from China in the South China Sea has prompted Vietnam to forge closer defence cooperation with its former foe the United States, analysts say.

"Vietnam is arguably the crucial swing swing state when it comes to the South China Sea," according to a recent report from the Center for a New American Security, a US-think tank with close ties to President Barack Obama's administration.

"If Vietnam does not resist China's rising power, weaker and less assertive states such as the Philippines have little chance of blocking Chinese hegemony," said the report.

On a nine-day regional tour, Panetta's visit to Vietnam follows a speech on Saturday at a security summit in Singapore in which he said the US Navy would shift the majority of its ships to the Pacific by 2020, as part of a strategic focus on Asia.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa signed and exchanged notes on Thursday for four of the projects amounting to 2.789 billion yen or around P1.195 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

  • It’s time to move on– Speaker
    It’s time to move on– Speaker

    The nation can now move on as President Aquino has satisfactorily explained his side on the Mamasapano incident for which he even begged for understanding, lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. “It’s time to move on,” Belmonte said in reaction to Aquino’s pronouncements made before new police graduates at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last Thursday. The President has spoken far too much about what he knows and about his limited involvement in the …

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options