Vietnam’s president Truong Tan Sang called on the US to lift a ban on the sale and transfer of weapon to the country during his meeting with former US President Bill Clinton in Hanoi Friday.
President Sang said such a move is important to “demonstrate mutual trust and the full normalization of bilateral ties” between the two countries.
Vietnam is among Clinton’s stopovers during his trip to five Asia-Pacific countries to promote the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/Aids Initiative.
In 2000, Clinton was the first US president to visit Vietnam after the Vietnam War. He returned to the Southeast Asian country in 2006 and 2010.
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 opened the way for trade in non-lethal defense items and services on a case-by-case basis, but it is still prohibited under law from selling or transferring lethal items.
Last month, 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 the ban on lethal weapons trade to the former enemy.
During their meeting, Sang also thanks Clinton and his wife for their contributions to improving Vietnam-US relations when they were in office as well as at present through the Clinton Foundation.
Vietnam will fully realize bilateral agreements, including the search for remains of US soldiers in Vietnam, Sang said.
The two countries last year established the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, which aims to boost maritime capacity and deepen bilateral economic ties.
East Sea issue
During his meeting with Clinton, Sang also welcomed the recent US Senate’s resolution which protested China’s deployment of an oil rig in the South China Sea and urged China to withdraw its oil rig.
The East Sea (as the South China Sea is known in Vietnam) issue was also discussed during Clinton’s separate meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung later the same day.
Clinton said he and Hillary Clinton support the settlement of the disputes through peaceful means and in line with international law.
He also reiterated the US ’s stance that countries’ national sovereignty must be respected and international law enforced.
During his meetings with Vietnamese leaders, the former US president also promised that the Clinton Foundation will give maximum assistance for Vietnam to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other infections.
It is also willing to work with local agencies and businesses to produce HIV/AIDS medicines in Vietnam, he said.
The Clinton Foundation has mobilized over 40 million USD for Vietnam since 2006.
PM Dung told Clinton that the government supports and facilitates its operation in a joint effort to fight HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.