Obama lifts decades-old arms ban to Vietnam

World Today

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang shake hands at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, May 23, 2016. The president is on a weeklong trip to Asia as part of his effort to pay more attention to the region and boost economic and security cooperation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday lifted a half-century-old ban on selling arms to Vietnam, looking to bolster a government seen as a crucial, though flawed partner in a region that he has tried to place at the center of his foreign policy legacy.

CCTV America’s Sean Callebs reports on Obama lifting the embargo.

Obama lifts decades-old arms ban to Vietnam

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday lifted a half-century-old ban on selling arms to Vietnam.

Obama announced the full removal of the embargo at a news conference where he vowed to leave behind the troubled history between the former war enemies and embrace a new era with a young, increasingly prosperous nation.

Obama steered clear of harsh condemnation of what critics see as Vietnam’s abysmal treatment of dissidents, describing instead modest progress on rights in the one-party state. Activists said his decision to lift the embargo destroyed the best U.S. leverage for pushing Vietnam on abuse.

“At this stage, both sides have established a level of trust and cooperation, including between our militaries, that is reflective of common interests and mutual respect,” Obama said. “This change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself and removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War.”

China hopes the improving Vietnam-U.S. relations will benefit regional peace, stability and development, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday.

As Vietnam’s neighbor, China is glad to see the country develop, “normal cooperative relations” with all other countries, including the United States, spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing.

The United States imposed the arms embargo on Vietnam in 1964, and in 1984, included Vietnam on the International Traffic in Arms Regulations list of countries that were denied licenses to acquire defense articles and defense services.

Vietnam has been under the embargo despite the normalization of the two countries’ diplomatic ties in 1995.

While answering questions from media at the conference, Obama also made it clear that the United States may sell weapons to Vietnam under a case-by-case basis. The United States “will continue to engage on case by case evaluation to do so (sell weapons),” he said.

The Vietnamese president, for his part, said that “Vietnam welcomes U.S. decision to completely lift arms embargo on Vietnam.”

Story by Associated Press, CCTV and Xinhua.

Phuong Nguyen discusses US-Vietnamese relations /span>

To take a deeper look at U.S. and Vietnam’s current relations in the week of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit and news on the lifted arms ban with the country, CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Phuong Nguyen, associate fellow of Southeast Asia programs at the Center for Strategic International Studies.