U.S. Plans to Send First Aircraft Carrier to Vietnam Since War’s End

Vietnamese officials must give final approval for the carrier’s visit to Danang.

“We expect it will be approved, and we will have a carrier visit in Danang in March,” said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

Danang is also the site of a joint United States-Vietnamese cleanup of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to birth defects and other diseases. The United States sprayed millions of gallons of it over Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam during the war.

Vietnam has been more aggressive in contesting China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, a marked contrast to the Philippines, which has warmed to Beijing under President Rodrigo Duterte. As tensions have escalated with China, there has been wide public support in Vietnam for closer relations with the United States.

Before his arrival on Wednesday, Mr. Mattis praised Vietnam, saying the country had “one of the region’s fastest-growing economies.”

He added that “freedom of navigation and access in the South China Sea will be critical to them economically and of course in their security efforts.”

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