U.S. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has proposed three points, including lifting lethal arms embargo, that he believes the U.S should do to push for a greater role for Vietnam in promoting stability and security in the Asia-Pacific.
In a statement on Obama’s upcoming visit to Vietnam posted May 18 on his website, McCain said in the years ahead, the U.S. should first continue to work with partners like Vietnam to enhance maritime information sharing and response capabilities throughout the South China Sea (Vietnam’s East Sea). The U.S. authorities have created the Maritime Security Initiative, a half-billion dollar effort that will work alongside the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program to enhance the capabilities of countries like Vietnam and the Philippines as they seek to respond to increased maritime coercion.
Second, Vietnam should be allowed to buy land and sea-based platforms that help its armed forces operate more effectively on, above, and within its territorial waters, McCain said, adding that “the time has come for a full lifting of this prohibition.”
The U.S. senator also urges the United States Pacific Fleet and Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) to expand their relationship, including increased port visits by U.S. naval vessels to Vietnamese ports and participation of the VPN in bilateral and even multilateral naval exercises, according to his statement.
He expresses support for the newly-established Fulbright University Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, regarding it as part of the U.S.’ efforts to help form a new generations of leaders in Vietnam.
McCain is an Arizona Republican and former Vietnam prisoner of war. The then-U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander’ A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over northern Vietnam on October 26, 1967.
Obama will arrive in Hanoi on the morning of May 23.