Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Pentagon officials on Thursday announced plans to deploy a U.S. aircraft carrier to Vietnam, marking the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier has visited the country since the end of the Vietnam War.
The USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is scheduled to make a port call in Da Nang in March as part of its Western Pacific deployment, pending approval from officials in Vietnam.
The discussion of the USS Carl Vinson sailing to the region is part of ongoing talks between Defense Secretary James Mattis and Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich amid an increase in regional security concerns as tensions rise between Vietnam and China over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The potential visit also is indicative of a growing defense relationship between the United States and Vietnam.
"The two leaders agreed that a strong U.S.-Vietnam defense relationship promotes regional and global security," Pentagon Chief Spokeswoman Dana White said in a readout of the meeting. "This relationship is based on mutual respect and common interests, including freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and recognition of national sovereignty."
The USS Carl Vinson was one of several topics Mattis and Lich discussed during a meeting in Hanoi, which also included a commitment to enhance defense cooperation based on a three-year plan of action that was previously agreed upon in October, White said.
The commitment is aimed at bolstering maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping operations.