First Vietnamese general delivers speech in US since 1975

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A lieutenant-general has become the first Vietnamese officer to deliver a speech on national defense in the US since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, VnExpress reported Friday.

According to the newswire, Lt. Gen. Vo Tien Trung, director of Vietnam National Defense University, presented his speech to some 200 American military officers and officials at the Washington D.C-based National War College on Thursday.

The one-hour speech focused on Vietnam's historical fight against Chinese imperialism, it reported. Trung also mentioned the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu against French colonialism in 1954.

VnExpress quoted Trung as saying that he didn't talk about the wars between Vietnam and the US, because everyone already knows about them and he didn't want to waste time.

Asked about strengths and weaknesses of the US forces during the wars, Trung refused to comment, saying that people should "close the past" and look to the future.

In his message to US counterparts, Trung said it was not legitimate to attack other countries, no matter how powerful their army is.

During the speech, Trung also presented information about Vietnam's armed forces, which consists of 450,000 official soldiers and some five million in reserves.

Vietnam would not take part in any military alliance, and would not allow foreign forces to station in Vietnam, he stressed.

According to Trung, Vietnam and the US resumed their diplomatic relations in 1995, which have since then developed quickly, with the countries' trade values increasing from zero in the mid-1990s to US$18 billion annually last year.

The two countries' military relationship, which was activated by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen's visit to Vietnam in March 2000, has also been developed with recent visits to Vietnam by US navy ships, the officer was quoted as saying.

He said security in the East Sea was the two countries' shared concern, VnExpress said in its report, adding that in an interview with Reuters, Trung said sovereignty disputes wouldn't lead to conflicts, and that any disputes would be solved in peace, no matter how many years it takes.

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