Obama made the announcement at a press conference co-chaired with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi during his ongoing visit to the country.
While answering questions from media at the conference, Obama also made it clear that the United States may sell weapons to Vietnam under a case-by-case basis. The United States “will continue to engage on case by case evaluation to do so (sell weapons),” he said.
The Vietnamese president, for his part, said that “Vietnam welcomes U.S. decision to completely lift arms embargo on Vietnam.”
The United States imposed an arms embargo on communist-ruled north Vietnam in 1964, while in 1984, the United States included Vietnam on the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) list of countries that were denied licenses to acquire defense articles and defense services.
Vietnam has been still under the embargo despite the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1995.
In July 2013, former Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and Obama launched the Vietnam-U.S. comprehensive partnership during Sang’s visit to the United States.
In 2014, the U.S. partially lifted the arms embargo against Vietnam, allowing transfer of maritime security-related defense articles to Vietnam.
Pham Quang Vinh, Vietnamese ambassador to the U.S. said in an interview with Vietnam’s state-run news agency VNA ahead of Obama’s visit that the embargo is “the last barrier in bilateral ties.”
Obama arrived at Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi late Sunday night, kicking off his first visit as U.S. president and the third consecutive one by a U.S. president to Vietnam since the two countries normalized ties.
His visit, made at the invitation of Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, is scheduled to last till Wednesday.