The administration of US President Joe Biden is in talks with Vietnam over an agreement for the largest arms transfer in history between the ex-Cold War adversaries, said two people familiar with a deal that could irk China and sideline Russia.
A package, which could come together within the next year, could consummate the newly upgraded partnership between Washington and Hanoi with the sale of a fleet of US F-16 jets as the Southeast Asian nation faces tensions with Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, one of the people said.
The deal is still in its early stages, with exact terms yet to be worked out, and might not come together, but it was a key topic of Vietnamese-US official talks in Hanoi, New York and Washington over the past month.
The US is considering structuring special financing terms for the pricey equipment that could help cash-strapped Hanoi steer away from its traditional reliance on lower-cost, Russian-made arms, said the other source, who declined to be named.
Spokespersons for the White House and the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.
“We have a very productive and promising security relationship with the Vietnamese and we do see interesting movement from them in some US systems, in particular anything that can help them better monitor their maritime domain, perhaps transport aircraft and some other platforms,” a US official said.
“Part of what we’re working on internally as the US government is being creative about how we could try to provide better financing options to Vietnam to get them things that might be really useful to them,” they said.
A major US-Vietnam arms deal could aggravate China, Vietnam’s larger neighbor, which is wary of Western efforts to box in Beijing.
A long-simmering territorial dispute between Vietnam and China is heating up in the South China Sea and explains why Vietnam is looking to build up maritime defenses.
“They are developing asymmetric defensive capabilities, but [want] to do so without triggering a response from China,” said Jeffrey Ordaniel, associate professor of international security studies at Tokyo International University and director for maritime security at think tank Pacific Forum International. “It is a delicate balancing act.”
Ordaniel said that Washington should shift funds set aside for financing militaries in the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region “so partners like Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan can afford the weapons they need to resist Beijing.”
The Biden administration has said it is trying to balance geopolitical competition with China, including in the Pacific and responsibly managing the two superpowers’ relationship.
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign
DARK WARNINGS: If Trump survives his court trials, neither the Supreme Court nor the US Constitution could stop him from becoming president for life, a ‘Post’ column said Former US president Donald Trump on Tuesday declined to rule out abusing power if he returns to the White House after Fox News host Sean Hannity asked him to respond to growing criticism of his rhetoric. The Republican presidential front-runner has talked about targeting his rivals — referring to them as “vermin” — and vowed to seek retribution if he wins a second term for what he argues are politically motivated prosecutions against him. As Trump has dominated the Republican presidential primary, US President Joe Biden has stepped up his own warnings, contending that Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy.” “Under no
Seventeen people died and 11 were injured when a passenger bus careered off a road on a “killer curve” and plunged down a mountain in the central Philippines, officials said yesterday. The bus was traveling in Hamtic municipality in Antique province when the crash happened on Tuesday afternoon, Antique Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Roderick Train said. Seven people were in critical condition in a hospital and four others were stable, Train said, describing the section of road as “accident prone.” One Kenyan national was among those killed, and a second Kenyan was among those critically injured. The bus, which came from