Vietnam Agrees to Japanese Warship Visit

Vietnam Agrees to Japanese Warship VisitVietnam Agrees to Japanese Warship Visit

Vietnam agreed on Friday to invite a Japanese warship to visit its strategic Cam Ranh Bay base on the South China Sea and for the two countries to hold their first-ever joint naval exercise.

The agreement was reached during a meeting in Hanoi between Japanese Minister of Defense Gen. Nakatani and his Vietnamese counterpart, Phung Quang Thanh, Kyodo News reported.

The visit to the port, which is close to the disputed waters of the Spratly Islands where China is building bases on reclaimed islands, may further irritate China after a recent US naval patrol close to the manmade outcrops prompted Chinese protests, Reuters reported.

While Japan has avoided antagonizing China with similar operations, it is nonetheless forging security ties with Southeast Asia nations, particular Vietnam and the Philippines that oppose China’s ambitions in the South China Sea.

Vietnam has allowed vessels from other countries, including the United States and Russia, to dock in Cam Ranh Bay, but foreign visits to the facility, which is home to several of Vietnam’s Russian-built Kilo-Class submarines, are rare.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, however, called for more mutual trust and cooperation with Vietnam in a speech to young people on Friday on a visit intended to mend ties between the communist neighbors that have been strained by maritime disputes.