Vietnam’s Minister of Defense General Ngo Xuan Lich engaged in talks with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Hanoi on Wednesday, discussing cooperation in maritime security, dioxin remediation, military medicine, English training, and UN peacekeepinng missions.
General Lich chaired a formal ceremony to welcome Secretary Esper, which was attended by high-ranking officials of the Vietnam People’s Army.
Both sides and their delegations partook in bilateral talks following the ceremony.
The Vietnamese minister warmly greeted the U.S. counterpart, who is on an official visit lasting from Tuesday to Thursday.
The two defense chiefs emphasized the importance of maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for growth.
|Vietnam’s Minister of Defense General Ngo Xuan Lich (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Hanoi, November 20, 2019. Photo: Viet Dung / Tuoi Tre
They agreed that bilateral defense cooperation has advanced considerably over the past time, matching the comprehensive partnership between Hanoi and Washington and serving the best interests of both peoples.
The two defense officials agreed to proceed with the cooperative items described in a memorandum on defense cooperation signed in 2011, a statement on a shared vision for defense relations signed in 2015, and a plan for cooperation in 2018-20.
Priority will be given to high-ranking delegation exchange, consultation, dialogue, and dealing with war consequences.
Vietnam and the U.S. will focus for the time being on projects to remove dioxin from the Bien Hoa airport area in southern Dong Nai Province; on search and rescue efforts in humanitarian disasters; on maritime security, military medicine, and English training; and on potential cooperation in the defense industry as well as UN peacekeeping missions.
|Minister of Defense General Ngo Xuan Lich (L) points to a map as he discussed dioxin contamination in Vietnam with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Hanoi, November 20, 2019. Photo: Viet Dung / Tuoi Tre
During an exclusive interview with Tuoi Tre News in Hanoi on November 8, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said that more purchases in agriculture, energy, and defense from Vietnam would help lower Washington’s current trade deficit with Hanoi, which is about US$40 billion.
Defense has become one of the significant areas for both sides since former President Barack Obama lifted a half-century-old ban on selling arms to Vietnam in 2016.
The U.S. has provided many coast guard ships and patrol boats for Vietnam ever since.