U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi as an arms embargo on Vietnam hangs in the balance. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama began his first visit to Vietnam on Monday (May 23), part of his strategic "rebalance" towards Asia that could bring more overtures to a former enemy to boost its defence capability at a time of rising South China Sea tension. The run-up to the visit has been dominated by a debate in Washington about whether to remove a decades-old lethal arms embargo on Hanoi and give it easier access to procurements of U.S. military technology. Most top U.S. aides favour at least easing the embargo further, arguing that Washington needs to demonstrate tangible support for Hanoi's efforts to build its deterrent against neighbour China, people familiar with the discussions said. Obama met President Tran Dai Quang as his visit began and he will also meet the two others in Vietnam's triumvirate of leaders, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong on Monday. Vietnam has long been calling for the arms embargo to be lifted, arguing that buying weapons for self-defence from established trade partners is normal. Though the communist parties that run China and Vietnam officially have brotherly ties, China's brinkmanship has forced Vietnam to recalibrate its defence strategy with a focus on a military deterrent in its coastal waters, including modern Russian Kilo-class submarines, advanced radars and corvette missile boats.