U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will visit Vietnam “at an appropriate time," the Vietnamese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said on Thursday.
Defense relations between Vietnam and the United States continue to develop under the existing cooperation framework, Hang told reporters at a regular press briefing in Hanoi.
“In that spirit, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will visit Vietnam at the invitation of Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich at an appropriate time,” Hang said.
Esper was confirmed as the 27th U.S. secretary of defense on July 23, assuming the office that had been left vacant for nearly ten months.
James Mattis resigned as U.S. defence secretary in December 2018, pointing to differences with President Donald Trump.
Esper’s Vietnam visit was first mentioned on October 9 during a meeting in Hanoi between U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver and Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
The meeting was part of a working visit by Schriver, who is in charge of the United States’ security issues in the Indo-Pacific region.
Schriver told Vinh during last week’s meeting that Secretary Esper would like to visit Vietnam at the earliest possible time.