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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s defense minister has visited Vietnam, seeking to expand military ties with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.

Sergei Shoigu hailed Vietnam as a “reliable longtime friend” during the talks in Hanoi. Russia’s Defense Ministry quoted Shoigu as saying Tuesday that Moscow was ready to share the experience of using weapons in real combat — a reference to Russia’s campaign in Syria.

The Soviet Union provided Vietnam with billions of dollars in economic and military aid during the Cold War, but ties withered after the Soviet collapse. In 2003, Russia withdrew from a Soviet-era naval base in Cam Ranh Bay, saying it wants to cut costs.

In recent years, Moscow has shown a renewed interest in developing ties with Vietnam, which has become a top customer for Russian weapons.