Danang: Three US Navy ships were
welcomed today by former foe Vietnam for joint training,
despite China`s irritation following weeks of fiery exchanges
between the communist neighbours over disputed areas of the
South China Sea.
US and Vietnamese officials have stressed that the
seven-day ship visit and naval training are part of routine
exchanges planned long before tensions began flaring between
China and Vietnam in late May. China has criticized the port
call as inappropriate, saying it should have been rescheduled
due to the ongoing squabble.
The US visit, however, did send a message that the
Navy remains a formidable maritime force in the region and is
determined to build stronger military ties with smaller
Southeast Asian countries.
"We`ve had a presence in the Western Pacific and the
South China Sea for 50 to 60 years, even going back before
World War II," Rear Adm. Tom Carney, who`s leading the naval
exchange, told reporters. "We will maintain a presence in the
Western Pacific and the South China Sea as we have for
decades, and we have no intention of departing from that kind
He spoke on the pier in central Danang, once home to a
bustling US military base during the Vietnam War, in front of
the diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard. American and
Vietnamese flags flapped in the steamy air from the ship, and
two guided missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon and USS Preble
were visible off the coast.