The United States has lifted a 40-year ban on weapons sales to Vietnam now allowing the latter to procure P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, part of the U.S. military’s older fleet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, who is also foreign minister, of the decision during Minh’s visit to Washington.
Deals will be done on a case-by-case basis, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “This policy supports Vietnam’s efforts to improve its maritime domain awareness and maritime security capabilities.”
Psaki added, “It makes it possible for Vietnam to receive patrol boats equipped with defensive capabilities that can conduct maritime security activities in the waters along its vast coastline.”
The P-3 aircraft could be outfitted with surveillance technology to help Vietnam detect submarines over a wide expanse of sea, according to reports.
Vietnam is scheduled to receive six submarines from Russia by the end of 2016, local media reported in March.
The partial lift of the embargo, in place since 1984, comes as China continues to assert its claims on disputed South China Sea territories.
“We welcome all steps to strengthen the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the United States for the benefit of the two countries, for peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the region and in the world,” Vietnam foreign ministry deputy spokeswoman Tran Thi Bich Van was quoted as saying by Bloomberg News.