Vietnam, US to hold high-level defence talksAugust 16th, 2010 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS
Hanoi, Aug 16 (DPA) Vietnam and the US were to hold their first-ever defence talks at the deputy ministerial level, US sources and Vietnamese media said Monday.
The discussions were scheduled to take place in Hanoi Tuesday, as part of an agreement reached by the two countries’ defence ministers last year, the official Vietnam News said.
The US will be represented at the talks by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and South-East Asia Robert Scher, the US embassy in Hanoi said.
The talks follow joint naval activities held by US and Vietnamese naval forces last week.
Over the weekend, Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh rejected suggestions by the foreign media that the manoeuvres were part of a shift by Vietnam towards closer alignment with the US.
In an interview with the army newspaper Quan Doi Nhan Dan, Vinh said any foreign press reports calling the naval activities “joint manoeuvres” were “wrong information”. He said Vietnam cultivated close defence ties with many countries, including China, India, and Russia.
Recent upgrades in naval ties with the US have been widely seen as an attempt to counter expansive Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Vietnam, China, and four other nations dispute sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands and the surrounding waters, which are believed to be rich in undersea mineral resources. In the past year, China has seized or detained hundreds of Vietnamese fishing boats in disputed waters.
On a visit to Hanoi in July for the summit meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested a multilateral mechanism for resolving territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China, which prefers to negotiate the disputes bilaterally, has criticised the proposal.
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Tags: association of south east asian nations, defence ministers, defence ties, deputy assistant secretary, deputy defence minister, east asian nations, fishing boats, hillary rodham clinton, multilateral mechanism, nguyen chi vinh, nhan dan, paracel islands, robert scher, south china sea, south east asia, south east asian, summit meeting, us embassy in hanoi, vietnam china, vietnam news