U.S. Lifts Arms Ban On Vietnam As Tensions Over The South China Sea Fester
President Barack Obama, the third U.S. president to visit Vietnam since 1995, has made Asia the crux of his foreign policy, Reuters reported. The United States has lifted its embargo on sales of lethal weapons to Vietnam in a step toward a mutually beneficially relationship between the two countries.
Obama maintained that "the decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations" other than improving ties with Vietnam. But, with China laying claim to 80 percent of the South China Sea, the United States is keen on supporting China's rivals who have overlapping claims on the sea.
Human Rights Activist groups are outraged that Obama sacrificed the only leverage the United States had on Vietnam's government, which pressured officials to relieve its crack down on the people's rights. Obama held firm; he will continue to push for human rights for the Vietnamese people and is scheduled to meet with activists on Tuesday.
The first deal to be signed during the trip was an $11.3 billion order for 100 Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) planes. Vietnam seeks drones, radar, coastal patrol boats and possibly a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft from the United States, Reuters reported in order to re-calibrate its defense strategy and surveillance of the South China Sea.
In addition to the arms ban being lifted, Obama has put forth his Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will group 12 economies together. He is confident it will be passed in Washington, as it poses no threat to U.S. business interests.
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