The U.S. has transferred five fast patrol vessels to Vietnam as part of a plan to assist the Southeast Asian country’s maritime forces, Vietnamese and American media reported.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for political and military affairs, Puneet Talwar, confirmed on February 4 that Washington had handed the ships over to Vietnam as part of the commitment made by Secretary of State John Kerry during his 2013 visit, Vietnamplus said on Friday, citing the Voice of America (VOA).
The provision of five boats and US$18 million was first announced by Kerry during that visit, VOA said.
Talwar also said the U.S. will continue giving support to strengthen the Vietnam Coast Guard.
In an interview with the VOA Vietnamese service on Wednesday following his visit to Hanoi, where he attended a defense dialogue between the two countries focusing on various issues, Talwar said, “We have been doing a lot of cooperation in terms of supporting the development of Vietnam’s Coast Guard.”
He added: “We are very proud of that work and we hope that it is also appreciated by the Vietnamese counterparts. Yes, we have been providing vessels, and we will continue to do that to help improve Vietnam’s Coast Guard’s capabilities,” VOA reported.
Talwar also said sea security, especially maritime freedom, is one of the most important issues in the annual Vietnam-U.S. dialogue.
He told VOA that his visit to Vietnam was not aimed at selling any kind of weapon, but the call reflected the increasingly deep partnership relations between the Southeast Asian nation and the U.S.
The two sides have discussed many issues, from maritime security, peace keeping, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to humanitarian activities such as the clearance of unexploded ordnance left in Vietnam from the war and the search for remains of American soldiers missing in action in the country, the diplomat told VOA.
He said the U.S.’s general policy on Vietnam is that the former supports the latter in becoming a prosperous and independent nation which has respect for human rights and jurisdiction, Vietnamplus citing VOA as reporting.
Talwar also said he believed that Vietnam’s respect for human rights will help the country grow in strength, VOA said.
On January 26, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said that defense cooperation between the two countries in the future will focus on the building of ties and coordination between their coast guards.
The ambassador made the statement while talking with the media at a bilateral conference on Vietnam-U.S. relationship in Hanoi that day under the theme of “For 20 More Successful Years.”
Asked what the key issues are in defense cooperation between the two countries in the near future, Osius said one of the focuses is to build relations and cooperation between their coast guard forces.
The U.S. has provided support to the Vietnam Coast Guard and this relationship is important for both sides, the ambassador said.