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US aircraft carrier arrives in Vietnam

DANANG (AFP) – A United States (US) aircraft carrier arrived in the central Vietnamese city of Danang yesterday.

The USS Ronald Reagan’s port call in Danang comes as the US and Vietnam celebrate the 10th anniversary of their “comprehensive partnership”.

The aircraft carrier – part of the US 7th Fleet “supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific region” – arrived with two escort ships, the guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Robert Smalls, the American Embassy in Hanoi said.

US Navy officials disembarked and shook hands with their Vietnamese military counterparts in a brief ceremony yesterday.

“More than 5,000 sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan are eager to visit Danang and experience Vietnamese culture,” USS Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer Captain Daryle Cardone said in a statement.

The United States carrier USS Ronald Reagan. PHOTO: AP

Vietnam and the US share increasingly close trade links, as well as concerns over China’s growing strength in the region.

The US aircraft carrier’s visit follows the arrival of Indian naval ships in Danang last month, as well as a port call by Japan’s largest warship in Cam Ranh, a city on the southeastern coast, earlier this week.

Spokesperson for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Pham Thu Hang said earlier in the week that port calls were an “ordinary friendship exchange for peace, stability, and cooperation and development in the region and the world”.

Strong bilateral ties between the US and Vietnam are key for Washington if it wants to remain the dominant power in the region, Phuong said.

“The US hopes that by sending one of their most formidable naval assets, they will have a trusted and reliable partner in Vietnam,” he said.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a quick visit to Hanoi in April and made it clear he wanted to upgrade diplomatic ties.

This is the third visit by a US aircraft carrier to Vietnam after a historic port call by the USS Carl Vinson in 2018, the first time such a ship had arrived in the country since the end of the war. The visit includes several cultural and community events, such as a US Navy band concert, a visit to an orphanage and sports matches.

The USS Ronald Reagan has been based in Japan since 2015.