Published On: Thu, Jul 29th, 2021

Pentagon Chief in Vietnam to Advance Ties but Rights Concerns Linger

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HANOI—U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sought on Thursday to nudge forward security ties with Vietnam that have been slowly deepening as both countries watch the Chinese regime’s activities in the South China Sea with growing alarm. Despite closer military relations, more than four decades after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, President Joe Biden’s administration has said there are limits to the relationship until Hanoi makes progress on human rights. Vietnam has emerged as the most vocal opponent of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and has received U.S. military hardware, including coastguard cutters. Before a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi, Austin said the United States did not ask Vietnam to choose between countries. “One of our central goals is ensuring that our allies and partners have the freedom and the space to chart their own futures,” Austin said. He did not mention China but there …

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