Last March, U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived in Da Nang on a historic visit to Vietnam. Photo by Nguyen Dong
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman on Thursday neither confirmed nor denied reports of a $94.7 million arms deal with the U.S.
Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang merely said at a regular press conference that she would pass on questions about the deal to relevant authorities.
She said Vietnam’s defense policy is to defend the country’s peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and to contribute to peace and stability in the region and the world.
“[Vietnam’s] defense cooperation with other countries are to implement this policy,” the spokesperson said.
A U.S.-based newspaper on Thursday quoted an unnamed official from the U.S. State Department as saying that Vietnam has signed contracts to buy U.S. military equipment worth $94.7 million.
The official did not disclose further details, but the newspaper claimed that the deals have been reported to the U.S. Congress and are in various stages of implementation and transfer to Vietnam.
According to the official, between 2012 and 2017, the U.S. State Department allowed Vietnam to purchase military equipment worth $25 million through the Direct Commercial Sales program. The department also provided $12 million to Vietnam through its Foreign Military Financing program in the fiscal year 2017, the official said.
In 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama lifted a decades-long embargo on arms sales to Vietnam, but the two countries have yet to officially announce any arms deal between them.
However, Vietnam and the U.S. have been stepping up defense cooperation in recent years.
As part of the Excess Defense Articles program, the U.S. last year transferred to Vietnam a ship that now serves Vietnam’s Coast Guard as the CSB 8020.
Last March, U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived in Da Nang on a historic visit to Vietnam, the first visit to the country by a U.S. aircraft carrier since 1975. During this visit, the U.S. also delivered six Metal Shark patrol boats to Vietnam.