- Published on Monday, 23 May 2016 13:40
- Written by Saigoneer.
United States President Barack Obama started his historic Vietnam trip with a bang, announcing the end of an embargo on lethal weapons imposed on the country for decades.
According to CNN, Obama declared an end to the arms ban at a joint press conference with Vietnamese president Tran Dai Quang this afternoon in Hanoi.
“The United States is fully lifting the ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam that has been in place for some 50 years,” President Obama told media representatives.
Obama told the media that at the crux of lifting the arms embargo was a desire to instill deeper defense cooperation between the two countries.
"We've come here as a symbol of the renewed ties we have made over the last several decades and the comprehensive partnership we have created over the course of my presidency," said the US president minutes before making his statement on the embargo.
The announcement likely came as little surprise to American weapons companies who, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, quietly hosted a defense symposium in the capital earlier this month, according to Reuters. Among its attendees were top American arms manufacturers, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Though US officials eased the rules of its embargo in late 2014, the ban was never fully lifted until today. Still, Vietnam has managed to become the world's eighth largest weapons importer: the country's total arms imports between 2011 and 2015 skyrocketed 699% compared to its purchases in the 2006-2010 period.
For now, Russia the country's primary military supplier, enjoys large contracts with Hanoi, including a US$2.6 billion order for six Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines.
[Photo via Thanh Nien]