U.S. Senator John McCain said in Vietnam on Friday that he will urge the U.S. Congress to lift the ban on lethal weapon sale to Vietnam, a move he said will gradually happen but may kick off as early as next month.
Senator McCain made the statement during his talks with Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi on Friday.
McCain and another U.S. senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, are on a visit to Vietnam from Thursday to Sunday, the Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Senator McCain and General Thanh agreed that the two countries should step up bilateral cooperation in navigation safety, maritime security, personnel training and exchange of army delegations on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of normalization of ties.
After the talks, McCain told reporters in Hanoi that it’s time for the U.S. to ease the ban on selling lethal arms to Vietnam.
The easing should happen gradually , he said, adding that he hoped it could begin as early as next month.
He also told reporters that the U.S. is ready to strengthen military cooperation with Vietnam, including more visits by U.S. naval ships to the Southeast Asian country in the future.
Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse told the media in Hanoi that the U.S., as a comprehensive partner of Vietnam, is ready to work with Vietnam to complete the agreement soon.
At a meeting with Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong the same day, the two U.S. Senators affirmed that the U.S. Congress and Government wish to further the comprehensive relations with Vietnam on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
The guests also expressed special concerns about maritime navigation freedom and recent tensions in the East Vietnam Sea, stressing that it is extremely necessary for all countries to respect international standards and law.
General Secretary Trong told the two senators that the Party and State of Vietnam consider the U.S. a leading important partner of Vietnam and support the Vietnam-U.S. relationship at all levels and in all fields for the sake of the two peoples, as well as for peace, stability and development in the region and the world.
At yesterday’s press briefing, VnExpress newspaper asked Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for comments about the U.S.’s responses, considered by public opinion as rather strong, against China over the recent tension in the East Vietnam Sea.
Senator Whitehouse replied that exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of every country form a sustainable network of EEZs that have been established based on international conventions and laws, as well as on mutual understanding, which help avoid conflicts and maintain stability in EEZs.
Therefore, whenever a challenge appears and poses a threat to peace and stability in EEZs, then not only the U.S. but also the entire world community will take action against the threat, the senator said.
Such a case has occurred and the U.S and other countries have responded against it, he added.