US Defense Secretary to visit Vietnam

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US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit Vietnam next year at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart, Phung Quang Thanh.

The US Department of Defense's website said Hagel

accepted Thanh's invitation during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM), Southeast Asia's most important annual defense ministers' conference, in Brunei Wednesday.

Hagel expressed his commitment to growing the bilateral defense relationship with Vietnam and working on issues like maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, and recovering the remains of US personnel missing in action, according to Pentagon press secretary George Little.

 

Hagel also conveyed his commitment to the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding for Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation, Little said.

 

The two leaders noted the importance of peacefully resolving disputes in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, and welcomed steps to develop an ASEAN Code of Conduct to guide that process, he added.

 

Vietnam News Agency quoted Thanh as saying Vietnam valued its relationship, including defense ties, with the US.

 

He hailed the recent visit to the US by President Truong Tan Sang for opening up a new framework for bilateral cooperation as the two countries established a "comprehensive partnership" and hoped the two countries would strengthen the relationship.

 

Vietnam would continue to implement the Memorandum of Understanding for Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation with a focus on remedying war consequences, he said.

It would help the US with MIA issues, he promised, and urged the US to join hands to remedy war legacies, such as providing information about Vietnamese MIA.

On the sidelines of the ADMM+, Thanh also held bilateral discussions with the defense ministers of Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia.

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