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EU should expand maritime activity in Southeast Asia as China looms

New defense pact with Vietnam foreshadows bigger role in global security

| Vietnam
The EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, right, is greeted by Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on Aug, 5. (Photo from Vietnam government's press release)

On August 5, there was a sign of blossoming international relations even as global hostilities in trade, currency and diplomacy intensified: the EU and Vietnam signed a historic defense agreement -- the first in Southeast Asia.

The agreement paves the way for Vietnam's participation in European military missions, peacekeeping operations and tighter defense cooperation, and comes as Europe extends its strategic ambition to East Asia, just when China is challenging the existing order.

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