US Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse will ask the US Congress to lift a ban on the sale and transfer of weapon to the Vietnam, McCain reportedly told the Vietnamese parliament speaker Nguyen Sinh Hung during a meeting on Friday.
The US senators arrived in Hanoi early the same day for a three-day visit, which Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Hai Binh said is aimed at discussing bilateral relations and regional matters of mutual concern.
During their meeting with Hung, the National Assembly Chairman, McCain and Whitehouse expressed hopes that bilateral ties between the two countries would grow stronger, particularly in fields of security, national defense, internet security guarantees and hydroelectric expansion.
Hung thanked John McCain for his efforts to improve Vietnam-US relations, adding that he welcome more high-ranking exchanges as the two countries approach the 20-year anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties.
The US and Vietnam re-established diplomatic relations in 1995, two decades after the end of the war, and ties have improved markedly in recent years. In 2007, the US began considering trade in non-lethal defense items and services on a case-by-case basis while continuing to prohibit the sale or transfer of lethal items.
According to the Washington Post, Vietnam makes up the first leg of John McCain’s Asian tour.
Neither senator’s office would say what other countries are on the itinerary, just that they are “key strategic allies in the region.”
In June, Ted Osius, President Barack Obama's nominee to become the next US ambassador to Vietnam, told his Senate confirmation hearing that it may be time for Washington to consider lifting its ban on the trade in lethal weapons to Vietnam.
Last year, the two countries established the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, which aims to boost maritime capacity and deepen bilateral economic ties.