General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, had talks with Vietnamese defense officials on Thursday to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries.
Dempsey, who is the first ever US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to visit Vietnam since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, described his working trip to Vietnam as “one of the highlights” of his military career.
Speaking with Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army cum Deputy Defense Minister, Dempsey said both President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told him: “The place for you right now is Vietnam.”
“The visit [by Dempsey] will improve the relationship between military forces and people of the two countries,” said Vu Chien Thang, chief of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic Department.
The two sides will work together to boost bilateral defense cooperation, including maritime security.
During his four-day visit in Vietnam, Dempsey is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi.
The US General will also visit an ongoing US-funded project to clean up dioxin from a former US air base in the central city of Da Nang.
The US$84-million project, funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID), aims to remove the toxic defoliant, dioxin, from the contaminated soil of the former US airbase. It is expected to finish in late 2016.
Between 1961 and 1971, the US Army sprayed some 80 million liters of Agent Orange containing 366 kilograms of the highly toxic dioxin over 30,000 square miles of southern Vietnam.