Dempsey Makes Historic Vietnam Visit

? Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey on Thursday became the first JCS chairman to visit Vietnam since 1971 when he touched down in Hanoi for meetings with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh, reported Voice of America. The visit is the latest US gesture to deepen military-to-military cooperation with Vietnam. During a press availability, Dung declared Vietnam’s support for expanded cooperation in areas such as search and rescue operations and disaster relief and for continued joint work in abating “consequences” of the Vietnam War, reported Vietnam’s official government news agency. Regarding the latter, Dempsey was scheduled to call on the US-funded dioxin abatement project at the former US air base at Da Nang, reported the same agency in a separate release. Dempsey told Vietnamese officials the United States would soon lift a ban on selling lethal armaments to Vietnam, according to the news agency. Dempsey’s Vietnam visit followed a high-profile US proposal at the recent meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Burma to de-escalate tensions between China and its neighbors, including Vietnam, in the South China Sea area.