US aircraft carrier to visit Vietnam

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, left, hosts an honour guard for Vietnamese Defence Minister Gen Ngo Xuan Lich, right, at the Pentagon on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON - Vietnam has won the promise of a visit from a US aircraft carrier and deeper defence cooperation from the United States as strains show with China over the disputed South China Sea.

Within Southeast Asia, Vietnam has become an increasingly lonely voice in challenging Chinese claims to the vast majority of the waterway and was forced to suspend some offshore oil drilling last month after pressure from Beijing.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told Vietnamese counterpart Ngo Xuan Lich in Washington on Tuesday that a strong defence relationship was based on common interests that included freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

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