Mattis cozying up to Vietnam amid China’s assertiveness

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is cozying up to senior Vietnamese officials, hoping to strengthen an Asian partnership in the face of China’s more aggressive military stance.

Mattis met with Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich on Thursday after reviewing a military honor guard.

Mattis says he enjoyed seeing Hanoi.

He says: “It’s been a reminder of the vibrant people here in Vietnam. And it’s a reminder of how much our countries share.”

No mention was made of the decade-long Vietnam War that ended in U.S. defeat in 1975.

Washington and Hanoi have gradually drawn closer, putting war recriminations behind.

The Pentagon announced last summer that the two countries are aiming toward a U.S. carrier visit to Vietnam, although the exact timing has not been worked out.