US aircraft carrier visits Vietnam amid growing military ties

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HANOI: The US Navy’s nuclear-powered “super-carrier” which carries over 90 aircraft, the USS Carl Vinson is making a historic visit to Vietnam as ties between the two former foes continue to improve.

The first such visit since the end of the US-Vietnam war in 1975 is highly symbolic and underscores the changing geopolitical relationships in the region. Analysts claim that the visit is aimed at China as it develops the islands in the South-China Sea. Vietnam and China have disputed the ownership of the Paracel and Spratly islands in the region.

The US has pressed China to resolve the dispute under International Law and continues to deploy its navy in disputed waters for what it calls “Freedom of Navigation” operations. China, which considers the South China Sea as part of its territory has frequently reacted with anger over the operations and has militarised some of the islands it controls.

The latest visit by the US Navy’s Strike Group comes as the US lifted an embargo on sales of US weapons to Vietnam in 2016, though Vietnam has so far avoided purchasing US weapons.

India and Vietnam also underlined the importance of “Freedom of Navigation” and vowed to strengthen defence ties in a joint statement on Sunday.