United States aircraft carrier Carl Vinson makes historic port call in Vietnam

US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrives at a port in Danang Vietnam Monday. Kham  Reuters

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. This signals that the rise in China's influence and economy, which is bringing together countries who were previously foes and creating huge changes in the areas geopolitical landscape.

The relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. has reached new levels in recent years and the visit of the USS Carl Vinson is proof, Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said.

The U.S. avoided the potentially more provocative choice of having the Carl Vinson visit Cam Ranh Bay to the south, which is closer to the Spratly Islands, whose sovereignty is disputed among parties including Vietnam and China.

"Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners", he said.

The nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson is home to 5,300 sailors, pilots and crew and 72 aircraft and will be in Danang - once a key US airbase - until its departure on Friday.

Derek Grossman, a senior defence analyst at the US RAND think-tank, said it was uncertain just how fast and how far Vietnam was prepared to go even as it sought to deter China in the South China Sea.

The first U.S. Marines arrived in Danang in 1965, marking the beginning of large-scale American involvement in the Vietnam War.

'The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates US support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam, ' Daniel Kritenbrink, the USA ambassador to Vietnam, said in a statement.

Under Trump, military cooperation with Hanoi has continued.

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An MoU was signed that calls for collaboration between India's Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) and the Vietnam Atomic Energey Institute (VINATOM).

In November, 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, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis also visited, laying the groundwork for this week's visit by the USS Carl Vinson.

The nuclear-powered Vinson carries 5,500 crew and up to 90 aircraft.

Apart from the Carl Vinson, the strike group includes the guided-missile cruiser Lake Champlain as well as guided-missile destroyers Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy.

The Vietnamese leader was quoted by the Asian Age; "We reaffirm our close collaboration to support India to further its relations and multi-faceted connectivity with ASEAN attaching high importance to the maintenance of security, maritime safety and freedom of navigation and over flight, settlement of disputes by peaceful means on the basis of worldwide law".

In July 2016, an worldwide court ruled that the so-called "nine-dash line"-a demarcation line China uses to lay claim to parts of the South China Sea-is inconsistent with global laws governing maritime resources".

Danang was a major USA military base during the Vietnam War.

"The United States and Vietnam share a range of interests including a desire to maintain peace, prosperity, unimpeded commerce, (and) freedom of navigation, upon which the region and its economies depend", he told reporters Monday.

The Vietnam War - which Vietnam calls the American War - was protracted and bloody. "Increased cooperation between the two countries in economic, diplomatic and military areas would serve as a counterbalance to Beijing's expansionism".


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