Vietnam will take part in the first-ever maritime exercise between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), set to be held off the coast of the Gulf of Thailand in September.
“According to information made available to us, the maritime exercise will take place from September 2 to 6, 2019,” the Vietnamese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang answered a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter at a press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday.
“This is an activity conducted under an agreement between ASEAN and U.S. defense ministers in 2018,” Hang said.
“As a member of ASEAN, Vietnam will participate in this exercise,” she added.
The five-day exercise, involving at least eight ships along with aircraft, will begin at Sattahip naval base in Chonburi Province and extend to the tip of Vietnam's southernmost province of Ca Mau, the Bangkok Post reported the same day, citing an ASEAN source.
|The Vietnamese foreign ministry's spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang at a press briefing in Hanoi on June 6, 2019. Photo: Nhat Dang / Tuoi Tre|
ASEAN is a political and economic organization whose members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The first such a exercise between ASEAN and the U.S. appears partly aimed at striking a balance between China and the U.S. - the two major powers with considerable influence in the region, especially in the East Vietnam Sea, the Thai newspaper commented.
Last year, the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise was held in October off Zhanjiang, in Guangdong Province.
All ASEAN countries will participate in the upcoming joint drill with the U.S. Navy, which is co-organizing it along with the Royal Thai Navy, the source said.