US aircraft carrier calls at Da Nang port as US seeks to strengthen ties with Vietnam

BANGKOK (AP) — A U.S. aircraft carrier and two guided-missile ships visited Vietnam on Monday, a rare port call as the United States and China increasingly compete for influence in Southeast Asia.

The USS Ronald Reagan, along with the guided-missile ships USS Antietam and USS Robert Smalls, visited Da Nang on Sunday.

Neighboring China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, but Beijing’s vast maritime claims in the South China Sea have given way. Increasing friction With Vietnam, as well as with Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the US is making a diplomatic push to strengthen economic and military ties in the Indo-Pacific region.

The aircraft carrier’s port call – only the third such visit since ties were re-established after the end of the Vietnam War – follows a visit to Vietnam this year. US Secretary of State Anthony BlinkenUS Trade Representative Catherine Doi and USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

“While aircraft carrier visits often attract media attention, due to their highly visible nature, the broader question is how they will contribute to the development of relations, including Washington’s quest to improve ties,” said Prashant Parameswaran, a fellow at the Wilson Center’s Asia Program. wrote in a research note.

“Too narrow a focus on carrier visits may distract from the broader trend of broader development of U.S.-Vietnam security ties and ties,” Parameswaran added.

Ronald Reagan’s officials left Sunday and were greeted by Vietnamese officials after a stop at Da Nang, which was modernized and expanded by the United States for its own use during the war.

Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer, Capt. Daryl Cordone, said some of the more than 5,000 sailors aboard the ship will volunteer at several community relations events, play local athletes and engage in other cultural and professional exchanges through June 30. .

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“A few Reagan sailors call Vietnam home, but for most it will be their first time,” Cardone said in a U.S. Navy release.

Washington views Hanoi as an important part of its strategy for the region and has sought to exploit Vietnam’s traditional rivalry with its much larger neighbor, China. Expanding US influence in the region.

JapanA strong U.S. ally, it made a port call in Vietnam last week with its largest destroyer, the Izumo, and conducted exercises in the South China Sea with the Reagan and other U.S. ships.

China is also trying to mend fences Naval Training Ship to make her home port call in Da Nang a month ago as part of what was called a goodwill tour to Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Reagan’s port call part of a “normal friendly exchange for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.”

Parameswaran said Vietnam needs to balance its emotional ties with Beijing with US outreach and domestic opinion, with polls showing Vietnamese people are among the most pro-American in Southeast Asia.

Based in Yokosuka, Japan, the USS Ronald Reagan is the only forward-deployed US aircraft carrier. It is to be replaced in that role next year by the Nimitz-class carrier USS George Washington.

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