HANOI (Reuters) - In a post-war first, the United States is poised to send an aircraft carrier to Vietnam in March, officials of both sides said on Thursday, dramatic evidence of deepening military ties between them, more than four decades after the Vietnam War.
The announcement came during a two-day visit to Hanoi by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that had been expected to focus on shared concerns about China.
The proposed visit is set for March at the central port of Danang, Vietnam’s defence ministry said in a statement. Such a visit by a U.S. aircraft carrier could bring the most U.S. forces to Vietnam since the conflict ended in 1975.
Mattis cheered the planned port visit during talks with Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.
“Thank you for the increasing partnership, with our aircraft carrier coming into Danang here in March,” Mattis said.
Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the carrier visit was discussed by Mattis and Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, and Vietnam’s defence ministry was seeking final approvals from national leaders.
“We expect it will be approved,” Davis said.