>> The big announcement of Vietnam's been waiting for. Barack Obama on Monday saying the US is totally lifting its ban on the sale of lethal weapons. It's been a hotly debated subject in Washington, the US wants more friends in Asia to keep China at bay. But there have also been calls to keep pressure on Vietnam until it makes some progress on human rights.
Obama's announcement suggesting that the security issue won the day.>> This change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself. And removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War.>> The US President also said that arms sales will still depend on Vietnam's human rights commitments.
But as Reuters Martin Petty reports, that might be hard to nail down.>> The fundamental difference is what the US regards as exercising basic freedom. Like the right to assemble or free speech or criticize the government, Vietnam sees that as subversive and trampling to say. So it's very hard to see where the middle ground is here.
Where both sides can agree on what constitutes on making improvement in human rights.>> Beijing's aggressive stance on the South China Sea has helped push the old enemies together. Lifting the arms ban offers Vietnam a stronger deterrent against China, but also helps it on the money front.>> Having access to US arms technology means that it's got more options, it has a lot better bargaining power.
That doesn't necessarily mean that it's gonna switch its technology away from its traditional supplier, Russia, and move whole heartedly towards the US. It just means that it's got a wide array of options.>> Meanwhile, China is watching this growing friendship from the sidelines. And warning it had better not quote threaten the strategic interests of any third country.