23:32 GMT +311 December 2018
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    The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the South China Sea while conducting flight operations on April 9, 2017.

    US Aircraft Carrier to Dock in Vietnam Port for First Time Since 1964

    © REUTERS / Z.A. Landers/Courtesy U.S. Navy
    Asia & Pacific
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    The US vessel is set to visit Vietnam next month. It will mark the first time a US aircraft carrier has visited the country since the end of the Vietnam War.

    The USS Carl Vinson will visit the Da Nang port from 5-9 of March. This will be the first US carrier to dock at a port in the Southeast Asian nation since 1964, the last one 'visited' Vietnam in May 1964, it was mined and sunk.

    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich agreed on the visit in January, while Mattis was on an official visit in Hanoi.

    The US has been trying to rebuild its cooperation with Vietnam in the field of security and defense, trying to get Hanoi to diversify its weapons imports after the US lifted its embargo on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam in 2016.

    But it's not just about arms sales. The US has China on its mind and is especially concerned about China's growing military power and naval presence in the South China Sea.

    The US has been a vocal critic of China's actions to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    Washington makes no secret that it supports nations in Southeast Asia that oppose Chinese territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea, and Vietnam is one of them.

    The nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson is currently in Manila. The Philippines is another major rival of China's ambitions.

    The South China Sea is a strategic waterway through which over one-third of global trade passes, and China has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and a waterway dispute with Indonesia.

    While Washington stakes no claims in the disputes, the US Navy maintains that it regularly sails through the area in order to assert freedom of navigation, ramping up tensions with China.

    Just last month Beijing accused the US of trespassing after an American warship sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited reef that China seized from the Philippines in 2012.

    READ MORE: China Accuses US Warship of Entering Territorial Waters, Violating Sovereignty

    Confrontation seems set to continue, as the Pentagon's new security strategy for 2018, unveiled in January, emphasizes countering China's rise and build-up in the Indo-Pacific region.

    READ MORE: S China Sea: 'Arena for Strategic Competition Between China and US' - Professor

    Tags:
    USS Carl Vinson, Manila, South China Sea, Vietnam, United States
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