U.S. "fully lifts" Vietnam lethal arms ban

May 22, 2016 | 10:11 pm PT
Obama has announced that the U.S. has fully lifted the lethal arms ban on Vietnam, marking the final step of the normalization of Vietnam-U.S. bilateral relations at a joint press conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang today in Hanoi.

"The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations, it's based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam," he said, adding later that his visit to a former foe showed "hearts can change and peace is possible".

"Part of our cooperation with Vietnam is to improve their maritime security [...]. My decision to lift the ban really was more reflective of the changing nature of the relationship," said Obama.

"What we do not have is a ban that's based on an ideological division between our two countries, because we think, 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. 

 He said every sale is viewed as a particular transaction and based on case-by-case evaluations. "There's some very close allies of ours where we may not make a particular sale until we have a better sense of how that piece of equipment may end up being used." 

In 2014, Obama eased restrictions on sales of maritime surveillance and security systems to Vietnam. The change has allowed the sale of U.S. patrol boats with mounted machine guns, search-and-rescue vessels and naval reconnaissance aircraft.

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