Obama lifts arms ban in first visit to Vietnam

President Barack Obama has removed a half-century old ban on selling arms to Vietnam. Obama, who's on a three-day visit to the country, says, "both

President Barack Obama has removed a half-century old ban on selling arms to Vietnam.

President Barack Obama has removed a half-century old ban on selling arms to Vietnam. (5/23/16)

HANOI, Vietnam - President Barack Obama has removed a half-century old ban on selling arms to Vietnam.

Obama, who's on a three-day visit to the country, says, "both sides have established a level of trust and cooperation, including between our militaries, that is reflective of common interests and mutual respect." Obama made the announcement Monday during a news conference in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.

The presidents attended a signing ceremony celebrating a series of new commercial deals between U.S. and Vietnamese companies. The White House said the value of the transactions was more than $16 billion.

The deals included U.S. engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney's plans to sell 135 advanced engines to Vietnamese air carrier Vietjet and Boeing's plans to sell 100 aircraft to airlines. The White House said the Boeing deal is expected to support 60,000 American manufacturing and technology jobs.

The White House also announced an agreement between GE Wind and the Vietnamese government to develop 1,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity.

U.S. lawmakers and activists had urged Obama to press for greater human rights freedoms before lifting the embargo.

Washington partially lifted the embargo on arms in 2014, but Vietnam wanted full access as it tries to deal with China's land reclamation and military construction in the disputed South China Sea.

Lifting the restrictions will anger China, which is deeply suspicious of growing U.S. defense ties in areas it sees as its own.

AP wires were used in this report

 

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