U.S. Defense Department hopes to gain greater access for Navy ships in Vietnam; Pak Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar seeks US apology to open Pakistan supply routes in Afghanistan
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  • (MAY 28-JUNE 3)

    According to reports, the U.S. Defense Department hopes to gain greater access for Navy ships into a key port in Cam Ranh Bay as the Pentagon looks to broaden its military partnership with Vietnam. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a June 3 visit to the dry cargo ship Richard Byrd, that U.S. naval ship access into Cam Ranh Bay “is a key component of this relationship and we see a tremendous potential here for the future.” Panetta is the highest-ranking U.S. government official to visit Cam Ranh Bay since the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Johnson visited Cam Ranh Bay in 1966. Access to Vietnamese ports is just one component of an expanding military relationship between Washington and Hanoi. Last year, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding, and the United States is looking to “expand that relationship” in a number of key areas, Panetta noted. The MoU focuses on high-level exchanges, maritime activities, search and rescue, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid and disaster relief. “[W]e want to work with Vietnam on critical maritime issues, including code of conduct, focusing on the South China Sea and also working to improve freedom of navigation in our oceans,” Panetta added. 1

    In another development, according to reports, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in an interview published on June 4, 2012 that the United States should apologize for an air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers if it wants Pakistan to reopen key supply routes into Afghanistan. A U.S. apology is “something which should have been forthcoming the day this incident happened, and what a partnership not only demands, but requires,” she said. 2