Obama arrives in Vietnam, seeks to turn old foe into new partner
U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Vietnam late Sunday ahead of a three-day trip aimed at sealing the transformation of an old enemy into a new partner to help counter China's growing assertiveness in the region.
Four decades after a war with Vietnam that deeply divided opinion in America, Obama aims to boost defense and economic ties with the country's communist rulers while also prodding them on human rights, aides say.
His visit has been preceded by a debate in Washington over whether Obama should use the three-day visit starting Monday to roll back an arms embargo on Hanoi, one of the last vestiges of wartime animosity.
Click through images of President Obama's visit:
That would anger China, which resents U.S. efforts to forge stronger military bonds with Beijing's neighbors amid rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea.
But in the hours ahead of his arrival in Hanoi, where he was greeted on a red carpet by foreign ministry officials, there was no immediate word of a final U.S. decision on the ban.
Vietnam's poor human rights record is a sticking point, but the Obama administration appears increasingly swayed toward giving Hanoi some leeway to build its deterrent against Beijing.
Obama's visit follows what the Pentagon called an "unsafe" intercept by Chinese fighter jets of a U.S. military reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea on Tuesday.