Mattis, Vietnamese Defense Minister Discuss Security, Other Issues

January 25, 2018

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich met today in Hanoi to discuss regional security issues, Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement.

At the meeting, the two leaders committed to enhance defense cooperation based on the three-year plan of action agreed upon in October, with a focus on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as peacekeeping operations, White said.

Mattis is in Vietnam to meet with leaders to discuss security challenges and shared interests as part of a trip that previously took him to meet with senior leaders in Indonesia. He will conclude his trip tomorrow in Hawaii, where he will meet with the commander of U.S. Pacific Command as well as with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo.

Growing U.S.-Vietnamese Relationship

Consistent with the growing defense relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam, both leaders agreed to work toward a visit by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to Da Nang in March, White said.

They also noted recent progress on the Cooperative Humanitarian and Medical Storage Initiative and robust Coast Guard cooperation, including the arrival of a former United States Coast Guard cutter in Vietnam in December, she added.

Mattis highlighted the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which reaffirms the United States’ commitment to work with partners such as Vietnam to sustain the rules-based order in a free and open Indo-Pacific region, White said.

The secretary said the United States would continue to assist Vietnam’s efforts to deploy a medical unit to the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission in the South Sudan later this year, she said.

Mattis also expressed appreciation for Vietnam’s close support to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency mission in Hanoi, White said, as it works to recover U.S. personnel missing from the war. The secretary committed to working with Vietnam to address remaining legacy of war issues, White added.

The two leaders agreed that a strong U.S.-Vietnam defense relationship promotes regional and global security, she said. This relationship is based on mutual respect and common interests, including freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and recognition of national sovereignty.

White said this is the sixth visit to Vietnam by a U.S. of defense secretary and follows Lich’s official visit to Washington in August.