Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said if the United States lifts the embargo against the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam, he would recommend providing materials for the Peoples' Navy, during a news conference in Ho Chi Minh City.
In the first trip by a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Vietnam since 1971, Dempsey visited Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City.
Forty-five years ago, the United States was in a conflict with North Vietnam, and Dempsey was a cadet at West Point preparing to join that war. "The challenge now is to think 45 years ahead," the highest-ranking U.S. military official said.
By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on Earth -- 7 billion of whom will live in the Indo-Pacific. "Where the people are is where the issues are," the chairman said.
Vietnamese reporters questioned Dempsey on China's territorial claims in the East China Sea. "We've been very clear that we don't take sides in the territorial disputes, but we do care very much how they are resolved," he said. "They should not be resolved through use of force."
The United States has longstanding defense agreements with nations in the region -- Thailand and the Philippines are treaty allies. "We are interested in becoming a partner with a strong and independent and prosperous Vietnam," the chairman said. Story
Building trust and confidence is the theme for the first visit by a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Vietnam since 1971. Story