“The United States entirely lifted the ban on selling military equipment to Vietnam, which has been in force for 50 years.” President Barack Obama announced it during a press conference in Hanoi, where he is on an official visit. Speaking with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang next to him, Obama said – CNN explains -, that removing the embargo is part of a greater cooperation with Vietnam in the field of defense, thus contradicting the statements according to which the goal would be contrasting China’s growing influence in the region.
On the contrary, Obama said, the decision is part of the desire to normalize relations between the US and Vietnam and delete a “ban based on an ideological division between our two countries.” Obama’s visit to Hanoi – the third visit of a US president since the end of the war in 1975, following Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – and the withdrawal of the embargo are the culminating point of a 20-year-long process of rapprochement between the US and Vietnam, considered unthinkable by many people.
Obama’s three-day visit, and the subsequent withdrawal of the arms embargo aim at reaffirming Washington’s influence in the area, but also at raising economic and military cooperation between the two countries. However, the US president has pointed out that actual sale of weapons will depend on the commitments Vietnam will take with regard to human rights.