05/23/2016, 09.18
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Obama arrives in Vietnam and lifts US embargo on arms sales

At the start of official three-day visit , the White House announces the complete removal of the embargo on the sale of weapons, in place for decades. Hanoi and Washington seek to boost trade (TTP) and safety. The objective is to form a common front against China. 78% of Vietnamese "in favor" of the US.


Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - US President Barack Obama has announced the complete removal of the US embargo on arms sales to Vietnam, their historical enemy of yore. The head of the White House announced the decision after meeting with the Communist leaders in Hanoi in conjunction with his three-day state visit to Vietnam. For some time the Vietnamese leadership has been pressing for the removal of the blockade, in place for decades.

Obama is the third US president to visit the country since the war. Other issues discussed include strengthening of security [for a common front against "Beijing" imperialism in the South China Sea], the expansion of trade and bilateral relations.

In recent days Hanoi authorities released Fr. Nguyen Van Ly who is in his 70's.  The Catholic priest his a leading figure in the struggle for religious freedom and civil rights. According to sources, the decision comes as a gesture of "good will" ahead of the arrival of Obama.

Today the head of the White House meets with Vietnamese President, Prime Minister and the de facto leader of the state, the general secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong. The two leaders have already met in the Oval Office last July, when the Vietnamese number one was received with full honors in the US.

The American president’s visit marks a further step forward in the rapprochement between the two former enemies; a diplomatic effort that begun 20 years ago and now sees Washington and Hanoi allies in the region against China’s designs.

In addition, business interests are also dominating relations between the nations now that Vietnam is one of the most dynamic and rapidly growing nations in South-East Asia.

The visit comes at a time of unprecedented popularity for the United States - and its leaders - among Vietnamese civilians. A survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center shows that 78% of the Vietnamese has a favorable opinion of the US, the third highest figure of the continent after the Philippines and South Korea.

A State Department statement released overnight announces that both countries will promote a partnership to combat climate change in Vietnam, hit in recent years by flooding and increasing salinity of the water. In addition, Obama will try to speed up the entry into force of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement that is dear to the United States.

For the US administration this trip - which will also include Japan - is an opportunity to continue the rapprochement between the two countries, with Washington looking with increasing interest to middle-class Vietnamese. In contrast, the Hanoi leaders are increasingly interested in showcasing their rapid growth, while overshadowing their authoritarian style of government, which suppresses all dissent.

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