US to provide 6 patrol ships to Vietnam as ties strengthen

Thanh Nien News

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Major Ly V. Thang speaks at a press conference on March 6, 2015. Photo credit: VnExpress Major Ly V. Thang speaks at a press conference on March 6, 2015. Photo credit: VnExpress


The US plans to provide six modern patrol ships to support Vietnam's rescue and law enforcement missions, an officer said Friday.
Ly V. Thang, head of the defense cooperation office at the US Embassy in Hanoi, said the US and Vietnam are finishing negotiations for the transfer of the vessels, which is expected to take place next year.
US State Secretary John Kerry in 2013 announced a funding package of US$18 million to help Vietnam strengthen maritime security and the US is delivering on that promise, Ly said at a press conference.
He said Vietnam and the US have seen much success in security and defense cooperation over the past 20 years of bilateral relations, including a memorandum of understanding for defense cooperation signed in 2011.
The countries now share commitments for a peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific as well as mutual approaches on dealing with security issues in the region.
Ly said the US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and a senior officer of the US Pacific Air Forces will visit Vietnam at the end of March.
He said there will be a training session next week to exchange expertise between the US Navy and Vietnamese coast guards as well as some rescue programs for the countries’ armed forces later in the month.
He said the US takes no side over China’s expansion in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea, but it will call for a stop to any actions which the parties involved consider provocative. 
Good relations

US ambassador Ted Osius speaks with Hanoi students on March 6, 2015. Photo: Truong Son

Ted Osius, US ambassador to Vietnam, spoke to more than 500 students at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi on Friday morning, reaffirming the message that “Nothing is impossible” in Vietnam-US relations.
He said the past 20 years have seen major, surprising advancements in the countries’ relations, especially when President Truong Tan Sang and President Barack Obama signed a comprehensive partnership agreement in 2013.
Security and defense cooperation have seen significant developments, so as other sectors, especially in human right issues. 
Osius said the annual human right dialogue between the US and Vietnam has brought many results, including Vietnam signing on the UN Convention Against Torture in 2013 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last year.
The openly gay ambassador also praises Vietnam for becoming more tolerant to the LGBT community.
The country has not recognized same sex marriage yet, but has lifted a ban and penalties for it.
He said the legal adjustments that expand individual freedom will be very important to the success of Vietnam.
Osius said there are going to be a lot of high-ranking visits from both sides, which will help maintain straight and open dialogues on all concerning matters.
In particular, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the Communist Party of Vietnam and Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang will visit the US.
This is such a good relationship that hardly anyone in the 1990s could imagine, Osius said.
Osius said “Nothing is impossible” was what his predecessor Pete Peterson, the first US ambassador to Vietnam after the countries normalized relations, told him.
He said Vietnam and the US can use that as a motto to keep improving their relationship.

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