Vietnam welcomed three U.S. Navy warships to its waters Friday following months of intensifying confrontations with China over border concerns in the South China Sea.The Navy Times reports U.S. and Vietnamese officials are stressing the seven-day ship visit and training are routine, planned well before tensions flared in the area in late May.
China’s dismissing the argument, saying the event should have been scratched because of the ongoing disputes.
The training comes just weeks after Vietnam held its own live fire drills in response to what it calls China’s bullying in the South China Sea waters where heavy amounts of oil and gas are believed to lay.
U.S. Rear Admiral Tom Carney is in charge of the maneuvers and spoke to reporters.
“We’ve had a presence in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea for 50 to 60 years, even going back before World War II,” Rear Adm. Tom Carney, who’s leading the naval exchange, told reporters. “We will maintain a presence in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea as we have for decades, and we have no intention of departing from that kind of activity.”
“I don’t know when an appropriate time would be for these kind of activities, which are designed to promote friendship and cooperation,” Carney said from the Vietnam pier. “But I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to do those kind of activities.”
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