US lifting ban on lethal arms sales to Vietnam

Updated: 2014-10-03 08:53


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WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said on Thursday that it is moving to partially lift a 30-year-old arms embargo against Vietnam.

Secretary of State John Kerry told visiting Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh that his agency "has taken steps to allow for the future transfer of maritime security-related defense articles to Vietnam," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said.

"This policy supports Vietnam's efforts to improve its maritime domain awareness and maritime security capabilities," she told reporters at a daily news briefing.

Pressed further by reporters, she said Washington is lifting a ban on selling lethal weapons to its former foe.

In remarks delivered at the Asia Society in New York on Sept. 24, Minh said the ban was "abnormal," saying Washington and Hanoi have normalized relations for nearly 20 years and set up a "comprehensive partnership" in 2013.

In their meeting, Kerry and Minh agreed on the importance of claimants "avoiding actions that threaten to escalate disputes and cause instability" in the South China Sea, where Vietnam and China are involved in territorial disputes, Psaki said.