Lifting arms ban, a necessary step towards full normalization of Vietnam-US ties

(VOVworld)- The US has lifted the decades-long ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam. The decision was announced by visiting President Barack Obama to the media after his talks with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi on Monday.

Lifting arms ban, a necessary step towards full normalization of Vietnam-US ties  - ảnh 1
President Barack Obama announced lifting arms ban on Vietnam at a press conference in Hanoi on May 23

Washington imposed its arms embargo on Hanoi dozens of years ago. Under embargo US companies were prohibited from selling military equipment or parts to Vietnam. The embargo was the last major barrier to improved bilateral relations.

In October 2014, the US partly lifted the ban to help Vietnam consolidate its ability safeguard maritime navigation. US officials and Congress members have voiced growing support for fully lifting the embargo.

Necessary step to fully normalizing relations

The US and Vietnam are improving their defense ties as President Obama confirmed Washington’s decision to wipe out a "lingering vestige of the Cold War". Mr. Obama said: "At this stage both sides have developed a level of trust and cooperation, including between our militaries, that is reflective of common interests and mutual respect".

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang praised the US’s full lifting of the arms ban, considering it vivid evidence of a full normalization of ties.

Positive public response

US Congress members said they support President Obama’s move. In a statement, Republican Senator Bob Corker said the Congress will work with the administration to make sure a major policy shift is in place. Ned Foote, a  Vietnam war veteran, who heads the New York State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, welcomed the government’s lifting the ban on US arms sales. Mr. Foote said the US long ago “forgave Germany and Japan for World War II, so there's no reason not to do the same with Vietnam”. Bernard Edelman, Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the Vietnam Veterans of America, said the war is over and the US has tried to build bridges to the Vietnamese.

Lieutenant General Pham Xuan The, former commander of Military Zone 1, described the event as a milestone in bilateral diplomatic relations with the last war legacy eliminated. It will step by step open  new cooperative framework in the defense industry, and weapons development. Tran Viet Thai, Deputy Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the lifting arms ban  creates opportunities for US companies to cooperate with Vietnam.

At a press briefing in Beijing on Monday, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying said China welcomes Vietnam’s pursuit of normal and friendly relations with any country, including the US. She added that the arms embargo was a historical anachronism and it should not continue to exist.

The New York Times viewed the decision as the most important initiative that the US and Vietnam have announced during President Obama’s visit. The Japan Times described Mr. Obama’s announcement as paving the way for deeper relations between the two countries. The Washington Post said the decision reflects the mature relationship and broadening cooperation in security and economic investment between Washington and Hanoi since the Vietnam War ended 41 years ago. France’s news agency AFP called it a symbol of changing bilateral ties which has been witnessing positive steps in trade and culture. Italy’s official news agency ANSA described President Obama’s decision as an historic event, saying lifting embargo on Cuba, and visiting Vietnam and Hiroshima, Japan, are laudable efforts by President Obama to ease the last vestiges of the Cold War.