“There is no such thing as a permanent former enemy, only state and people interests exist,” said a Vietnamese ex-ambassador to the United States after it partially lifted a decades-long ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam.
The former ambassador, Le Cong Phung, made the statement when asked by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper for a comment on the fact that the U.S. has partially lifted a decades-long ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam.
The move, which was announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his talks with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh in Washington last Thursday, is among the U.S.’s steps to create a strategic re-balance in the Asia Pacific region to consolidate its interests there, Phung said.
Meanwhile, China is emerging and pursuing its ambition to become a maritime power in the world, and as a result, the East China Sea and the East Sea have become the hot spots of disputes, he said.
“However, as announced by the spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, the partial lift of the U.S.’s arms embargo on Vietnam is not for anti-China purposes,” the ex-ambassador said.
He emphasized that the U.S. is creating a balance by assisting neighboring countries around China to improve their capability to safeguard their territorial waters.
Vietnam is now not an ally to the U.S., but this Southeast Asian country has an important strategic geographical position, Phung said.
“We attach significance to developing relations, including defense ties, with all countries on the basis of respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty and legitimate interests,” the former diplomat said.
During his visit to the U.S., Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh affirmed that the fact that Vietnam develops relations with the U.S. does not affect any other countries.
“Vietnam and the U.S. have turned their relationship from being former enemies to being comprehensive partnership, and I want, based on a famous saying, to say that there is no such thing as a permanent former enemy, only state and people interests exist,” Phung said.
The ex-ambassador also expressed his belief that the partial embargo removal will lead to a full lift in the future.
At a press briefing last week, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “The State Department has taken steps to allow for the future transfer of maritime security-related defense articles to Vietnam.”
Reuters, citing U.S. sources, said Washington could eventually sell Vietnam used U.S. P-3 Orion surveillance planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp, which are being replaced by newer P-8A aircraft built by Boeing Co.
The State Department officials declined to name any specific weapon systems that could be under consideration or give a timetable for expected agreement on the first such deal.
AFP cited an official at the State Department as saying that all weapons that may be provided to Vietnam are defensive in nature.