President Barack Obama has announced the lifting of an arms embargo on Vietnam, removing a vestige of wartime animosity in an attempt to shore up the communist country in its territorial dispute with an increasingly aggressive China.
Obama made the announcement Monday during a news conference in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.
US 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.