No foreign military bases on our soil: Vietnam

HANOI (REUTERS) - Vietnam said on Thursday (Oct 13) it would not allow other countries to set up military bases on its territory, just days after Russia said it was considering reopening Soviet-era bases in Vietnam and Cuba.

Russian news agencies last week quoted a Russian deputy defence minister as saying Russia was considering plans to restore the bases that had served as pivots for Soviet global military power during the Cold War.

"Vietnam's consistent policy is not to engage a military ally or engage with any country to oppose a third country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh told a news briefing. "We will also not allow any other countries to set up a military base in Vietnam."

While pursuing a neutral foreign policy to befriend many countries and allowing port calls by foreign warships, Vietnam still bars any permanent presence by foreign military forces.

Russia, which inherits a long relationship with Vietnam, withdrew from the deepwater Cam Ranh naval base in the early 2000s as part of its drawing down of military presence around the world after the demise of the Soviet Union.

Cam Ranh is the jewel in the crown of Vietnam's military, with an air base once used by the US and Soviet forces and a deep water bay home to its modern, Russian-built submarines.

Visits by foreign ships are rare and usually restricted to maintenance. US, Japanese and French warships have recently made port calls at Cam Ranh.