OBAMA CONTEMPLATES LIFTING ARMS BAN ON VIETNAM
President Barack Obama is reportedly considering lifting the arms ban on Vietnam as part of plans to bolster military ties with Hanoi. Reports of Obama reviewing the arms transfer policy have emerged ahead of his visit to Vietnam later this month, Reuters reported. The countries are working together on maritime security issues as China continues to demonstrate its military strength in the South China Sea. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel was quoted by Reuters as saying: “One of the important factors that would make a lift of the ban possible would be to continue forward momentum in meeting universal human rights standards and progress in important legal reform.”
Center for Strategic and International Studies regional expert Murray Hiebert reportedly said that though the ban of arms is completely lifted, the US will still have a right to reject individual arms transfers if it discovers human rights violations by Vietnam. Vietnam mostly depends on Russian suppliers for weapons. In October 2014, the US sent defensive maritime equipment shipments to help Hanoi tackle China’s operations in the South China Sea.