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Iran Press TV

US giving Vietnam $18 million to buy patrol boats

Iran Press TV

Mon Jun 1, 2015 1:20PM

The United States will provide $18 million to Vietnam to help the country improve its military capabilities in the South China Sea amid rising tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Sunday that Vietnam will receive the funds to "modernize our partnerships' as well as to "enhance our capabilities and the capabilities of Vietnam.'

The funds will be spent on American-made maritime patrol boats, he added.

The Pentagon chief made the comments after touring a Vietnamese coast guard vessel that was hit by a Chinese ship during a skirmish in the South China Sea.

The sale of patrol boats to Vietnam is part of the Obama administration's long-term rebalance of military assets to the region to contain China's economic and military rise.

Carter is on an 11-day trip to the Asia-Pacific to boost military ties and expand bilateral cooperation with countries in the region who are concerned with China's growing assertiveness.

During a security conference in Singapore on Saturday, Carter said, 'with its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both the international rules and norms.'

'First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants,' he said. 'We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features.'

Washington accuses Beijing of undergoing a massive "land reclamation" program in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, and says China's territorial claims of the man-made islands could further militarize the region.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in October, authorizing the sale of lethal weaponry to Vietnam for maritime security purposes.

US Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, plans this week to introduce legislation in Congress to alter the long-standing ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam.

AHT/GJH



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