41 Years Later, Vietnam Arms Embargo Is History

Obama announces end of 'Cold War vestige'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2016 5:06 AM CDT
Vietnam Arms Embargo Is History
President Obama appears at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.   (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)

American guns—and the US Peace Corps—may soon be making their way to Vietnam. President Obama, who's making his first visit to the country, announced on Monday that the decades-old US embargo will be completely lifted to give Vietnam "access to the equipment it needs to defend itself" and "remove a lingering vestige of the Cold War," the Los Angeles Times reports. But human rights advocates were disappointed that Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang failed to unveil any fresh policies to go along with the lifting of the ban, though Tran and Obama did announce that the Peace Corps will be allowed to operate in Vietnam for the first time.

The full lifting of the 1975 embargo, which follows a 2014 loosening to boost maritime security, was seen partly as an attempt to counter China's strength, the Washington Post reports, though Obama said it "was not based on China or any other considerations. It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam." The White House says that while the US sale of lethal arms to Vietnam is now legally possible, sales will be looked at on a case-by-case basis and approval will be linked to improvements in human rights. (Obama's Asia trip will also include a visit to Hiroshima, which will be the first by a sitting US president.)

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