The Nation



US boosts maritime security aid to Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam -- The United States will boost maritime security assistance to China's smaller neighbors amid rising tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Monday during a visit to Vietnam, where he also pressed the communist government on human rights and democratic and economic reforms.

The US will provide an additional $32.5 million to help Southeast Asian nations protect their territorial waters and secure navigational freedom, Kerry said. Vietnam alone will receive up to $18 million, including five fast patrol-boats that will be given to the Vietnamese Coast Guard, he said. With the new contribution, US maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, the State Department said.

``No region can be secure in the absence of effective law enforcement in territorial waters,’’ Kerry said Monday at a news conference with Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

Kerry’s visit to Vietnam, to be followed by a stop in the Philippines on Tuesday, comes as tensions over conflicting claims to territory in the South China Sea have risen dramatically, and many of China’s neighbors are seeking assurances from Washington that it will remain a guarantor of maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region. Both Vietnam and the Philippines are involved in disputes with China.

Associated Press

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