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US Eases Ban on Lethal Arms Sales to Vietnam

The United States is partially lifting its ban on sales of weaponry to Vietnam to help its maritime security in a sign of deepening ties between the former enemies.

The move is intended to support Vietnam’s ability to defend itself in the South China Sea, where it is among Asian nations facing an increasingly assertive China.

Secretary of State John Kerry informed Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh of the U.S. decision as they met in Washington.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters the U.S. will now allow sales of lethal maritime security capabilities and for surveillance on a case-by-case basis.

The U.S. has not transferred lethal arms to Vietnam since communists took power at the end of the Vietnam War. A 1984 embargo prohibited arms sales because of concern over the authoritarian government’s human rights record.

Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam were normalized in 1995, some 20 years after the war’s end. Washington approved non-lethal arms sales in 2006, and ties have since deepened further, particularly as the Obama administration has sought to expand U.S. engagement in Asia.

Source ABC News