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US carrier to stage first visit to Vietnam since war

THE USS Carl Vinson will dock in Danang today, the first visit of a United States aircraft carrier since the end of the US war on Vietnam in 1975.

The carrier will berth for five days. While other US warships have docked in Vietnamese ports in recent years, this will be the largest US military presence in the country since the war.

It comes amid tensions in the South China Sea between coastal states, particularly over China’s territorial claims there.

While these are regional disputes that China insists should be settled through peaceful negotiation, the US has sought to inflame matters by regularly sailing heavily armed groups of warships through the sea.

The central coast port of Danang is close to the Blue Whale gas field that is being exploited by US oil giant Exxon Mobil.

Vietnam analysts say the country is trying to balance its relations with northern neighbour China and the US.

The US assault on Vietnam and its neighbours Laos and Cambodia, in a bid to snuff out growing the struggle for national liberation, killed several million people, poisoned millions more with chemical weapons and left the three countries littered with unexploded bombs.

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