The US President Barack Obama has announced that the United State is fully lifting its embargo on sales of lethal weapons to Vietnam, its one-time enemy.
Speaking during a visit to communist Vietnam and talks with its leaders, Barack Obama said the move removed a “lingering vestige of the Cold War”.
The US is trying to bolster its relationship with its Pacific allies, as China asserts territorial claims.
Obama said the embargo decision was not related to US policy on China.
“It’s based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam,” he said in Hanoi.
White House officials had indicated the ban would be lifted only if there was an improvement in human rights in Vietnam.
“Sales will need to still meet strict requirements, including those related to human rights, but this change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself,” Barack Obama said.
Vietnam had been arguing for an end to the arms embargo, which had been in place for decades. It was partially lifted in 2014.
His visit comes 41 years after the end of the Vietnam War in which the US sought to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam.
Several million Vietnamese – civilians, communist fighters and South Vietnamese soldiers – were killed, as well as more than 58,000 US soldiers.
By the end of the war in 1975, the communists had gained control of the entire country.
Vietnamese officials have meanwhile removed the accreditation of the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Hanoi after accusing him of conducting an unauthorised interview – something he denies.