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Top US general raises hopes of easing arms ban to Vietnam

Published on Aug 16, 2014 2:59 PM
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey reviews the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at Vietnam's Defence Ministry in Hanoi on Aug 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HO CHI MINH CITY , Vietnam (AFP) - The United States could help build Vietnam's naval capacity if a ban on selling lethal weapons to the authoritarian nation is lifted, the most senior US military officer to visit Vietnam for decades said Saturday.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that "in the near term" there would be a discussion in the United States about whether to lift the ban introduced over human rights concerns.

Dempsey was speaking to reporters in southern Ho Chi Minh City during a four-day visit to the country during which he has met top military officials to discuss strengthening military cooperation.

"The maritime domain is the place of our greatest common interest right now... and my recommendation if the ban is lifted will be that we start with that," he said.

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