US eases arms embargo against Vietnam to help it boost its maritime security

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (above, in a file photo) said on Thursday that steps had been taken "to allow for the future transfer of maritime security-related defence articles to Vietnam". -- PHOTO: AFP
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (above, in a file photo) said on Thursday that steps had been taken "to allow for the future transfer of maritime security-related defence articles to Vietnam". -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States on Thursday partially lifted a long-time ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam to help the country improve its maritime security, a historic move that comes nearly 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War.

"The State Department has taken steps to allow for the future transfer of maritime security-related defence articles to Vietnam," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a briefing.

State Department officials told a separate briefing that sales of any specific weapons would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

They said the decision follows some progress by Vietnam on human rights issues, including the release of 11 political prisoners, although they cautioned that a further easing of the ban would require additional steps.