Vietnam on Tuesday said the strategic Cam Ranh Bay naval base would not be leased out to any foreign power for military purposes.
This was stated by Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga on the sidelines of the first-ever Asia-Pacific Defence Ministers' meeting in Hanoi. She was answering questions arising from the recent news reports that the Russian Navy had now drawn up proposals for returning to the base it vacated several years ago. Russia was represented at the Asia-Pacific conference by the First Deputy Minister of Defence, General Nikolai Makarov, who is also the Chief of the General Staff.
Interestingly, Hanoi's position, more or less on the same lines, was spelt out in November 2004 by the then Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien in his written answers to questions from The Hindu on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between Jawaharlal Nehru and Ho Chi Minh.
The answer was: “For a long time, Cam Ranh has been known as a military port, which is now no longer the case. In 2003, the Vietnamese Prime Minister approved the master plan for developing the Cam Ranh Gulf until 2010 for civil use. This has been strongly implemented and the Cam Ranh airport was inaugurated on May 19, 2004, and it is now open for commercial flights.”