US lifts arms ban on Việt Nam: Obama

May, 24/2016 - 10:53

The US is fully lifting its fifty-year old arms embargo on Việt Nam, announced US President Barack Obama yesterday.

Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng (right) meets with US President Barack Obama yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Trí Dũng 

Viet Nam News HÀ NỘI — The US is fully lifting its fifty-year old arms embargo on Việt Nam, announced US President Barack Obama yesterday.

The historic announcement came in a joint press conference between Obama and his Vietnamese counterpart Trần Đại Quang during the US President’s three-day official trip to the Southeast Asian nation.

Obama said that ending the ban on military equipment sales to Việt Nam would boost defence ties with its one-time enemy.

Though the decision came in the context of China flexing its muscles in the East Sea, Obama denied removing with China in mind when asked by a White House correspondent whether the Asian power’s increasingly aggressive behaviour in the disputed sea triggered the move. It was, instead, a step to normalising relations with Việt Nam.

It [also] underscores the commitment of the United States to a fully normalised relationship with Việt Nam,” he said.

After the American War ended in 1975, diplomatic ties between Việt Nam and the US had frozen over two decades. It was not until then-US President Bill Clinton announced the formal normalisation of relations between the two countries in 1995 and visited Việt Nam in 2000 did bilateral ties bloom in trade and now in defence.

Việt Nam will now have access to military equipment and the means to “protect themselves, … (but) sales still need strict requirements, included those related to human rights,” the US President stressed.

Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang said that Việt Nam and the US still have a number of differences.

“But what matters is the two countries should continue with more dialogue to reduce those differences in various fields including the human rights issue,” Quang said.

‘Painful’ war legacy

Obama said that the US would carry on work to remove the dioxin/Agent Orange leftover since the American war .

The United States Agency for International Development has been working on a project to remove the lethal poison from the soil in Đà Nẵng Airport – one of the two sites, along with Biên Hòa airbase to the south, most contaminated with dioxin in Việt Nam.

The US would soon begin another dioxin removal project in Biên Hòa airport, as well as to continue its co-operation with the Vietnamese government to remove unexploded ordnance left from the American war, said Obama.

“The United States will continue to do our part to address the painful legacy of war,” he said.

The American War cost the US nearly 60,000 military personnel while Việt Nam lost millions of soldiers and citizens.

Comprehensive partnership

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc also met with President Obama yesterday, in which the two leaders exchanged views on measures to intensify the Việt Nam-US comprehensive partnership.

Phúc asked the US to recognise Việt Nam’s market economy status soon, open its market wider to Vietnamese goods, and increase its investment to become the biggest investor in Việt Nam. 

He asked for US assistance in responding to climate change, especially in the Mekong Delta, Việt Nam’s largest rice granary. 

Regarding the East Sea (South China sea) dispute, the two leaders affirmed the need to respect the UN Charter and international law in handling regional issues. 

They agreed that disputes in the East Sea should be solved by peaceful measures on the basis of international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea. They emphasised the need to work towards forming a Code of Conduct in the East Sea, ensuring maritime and aviation security and not using force. 

The Vietnamese PM affirmed that the Government will soon submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the National Assembly for ratification and asked President Obama to speed up the US Congress’s ratification of the deal.

On the same day, the US leader was welcomed by Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng and National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân.

Trọng welcomed the statements and actions of other countries, including the US, towards maintaining peace, security and stability in the region. 

He affirmed Việt Nam considers the US one of its leading partners, stressing the need for both sides to further the comprehensive partnership in a practical and effective manner on the basis of respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions, and not intervening in each other’s internal affairs, for their people’s interests and for peace, stability, co-operation, development and prosperity. 

The Party chief appreciated the US co-operation with Việt Nam in activities to address the aftermath of the war and hoped for the country’s continued assistance in this field. 

National Assembly Vice Chairman Phùng Quốc Hiển and US members of parliament have discussed issues of shared concern such as the TPP agreement and national defence. 

Obama plans to deliver a speech at the National Convention Centre today and will later head to the HCM City.

After wrapping up the Việt Nam trip, the US President will fly to Japan to attend the G7 meeting. — VNS