US President Barack Obama has announced the complete removal of America’s arms embargo against the “extremely important” Vietnam during a trip to Hanoi where he called for enhanced relations with Washington’s former arch foe.
Obama on Monday lifted the decades-old arms export ban against Vietnam during his first visit to the communist country.
Speaking at a press conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Obama said the move was a step toward normalizing relations with the former adversary to eliminate a “lingering vestige of the Cold War.”
“The United States is fully lifting the ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam that has been in place for some fifty years,” he said.
“At this stage both sides have developed a level of trust and cooperation,” Obama noted, adding that he expected deepening cooperation between the two nations’ militaries.
This is while reports indicate the US aerospace giant, Boeing, has also gotten an order for 100 jets from VietJet Aviation valued at $11.3 billion.
Obama also said despite differences with the one-party system in Vietnam, relations were on track for the better.
He arrived in Hanoi, the capital, late Sunday, making him the third sitting president to visit the country since the end of the Vietnam War.
Diplomatic ties between the US and Vietnam were restored in 1995 years of their hostilities drew to a close.
The two countries have significantly improved their ties over the past two decades, with annual, bilateral trade now standing at about $20 billion.
Vietnam has long sought the removal of Vietnam’s ban which is one of the last major vestiges of America’s devastating Vietnam War that lasted from 1965 to 1973 and killed hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and 58,000 US soldiers.
The United States now seeks to boost trade with a fast-growing middle class in the Asian country that is expected to double by 2020. That would mean knocking down auto, food and machine tariffs to get more US products into Vietnam.
Within days, Obama is due in Japan for an international summit and a visit to Hiroshima, where he will be the first sitting president to visit the site of the first atomic bomb attack.
The US president has already rejected to apologize to the Japanese for America’s 1945 atomic bombing of Japan.