Panetta wants more access to Viet harbor
CAM RANH BAY, VIETNAM (AP) — From the flight deck of the USNS Richard E. Byrd, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta could look out across Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay towards the South China Sea.
A day after laying out details of the Pentagon's new focus on the Asia-Pacific region, Panetta used a visit to Vietnam to restate the United States' intent to help allies in the region develop and enforce maritime rights in the sea, a waterway largely claimed by China. And he reflected on the significance of the harbor, which represents both a painful past for the American military, and a challenging but hopeful future.
"The new defense strategy that we have put in place for the United States represents a number of key elements that will be tested in the Asia-Pacific region," Panetta told reporters gathered Sunday under a blazing sun on the deck of the cargo vessel. He said the U.S. would "work with our partners like Vietnam to be able to use harbors like this as we move our ships from our ports on the West Coast towards our stations here in the Pacific."MORE