US planning to send aircraft carrier to Vietnam for first time since war

US planning to send aircraft carrier to Vietnam for first time since war
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The U.S. is planning to send an aircraft carrier to Vietnam in a visit that could bring the largest number of U.S. troops to the country since the war in the 1970s. 

“Thank you for the increasing partnership, with our aircraft carrier coming into Danang here in March,” Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump returns to UN praising Kim | Iran in crosshairs later this week | US warns Russia on missile defense in Syria Bolton: Russian missile system sale to Syria a 'significant escalation' Overnight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' MORE said during a visit to the Vietnamese port city this week. 

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While Vietnam's defense ministry is in the process of getting final approval for the visit, a Pentagon spokesman told Reuters the U.S. expects it will be approved. 

The move signals increased military collaboration between the two countries in the years after the conflict, experts say. 

However, it is also expected to irk China, which has sought to expand its influence in the region. 

China has constructed a series of islands in the South China Sea, demonstrating its maritime ambitions in the region. 

U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris last week dubbed China a “disruptive transitional force in the Indo-Pacific," Reuters noted.

The U.S. joins Australia, Japan and India in bolstering its military relationship with Vietnam.