HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — President Obama said Monday that the United States' relationship with Vietnam is moving to a "new moment," including an end to the half-century American arms embargo on its former war rival and a host of new business ties between the two nations.
"Just a generation ago, we were adversaries and now we are friends," Obama said during a news conference in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam.
Other signs of cooperation between former combatants in the Vietnam War include work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the proposed trade deal involving a dozen Asian and Pacific Rim nations; new business sales; more military cooperation; and a series of cultural exchanges that include the introduction of the U.S. Peace Corps to Vietnam.
In announcing the ban on arms sales to Vietnam, Obama described it as a "lingering vestige of the Cold War" that is no longer necessary as the U.S. and Vietnam continue the process of normalization that began in 1995. Obama said the decision has nothing to do with the growing Chinese military presence in the region, and said that each weapons sale to Hanoi will be evaluated on a "case-by-case" basis to make sure it is appropriate.
"We examine what's appropriate and what's not," Obama said.
The United States partially lifted the embargo in 2014.
Obama also said that the United States and Vietnam continue to have differences over human rights, and the protested the number of Vietnamese political prisoners.
In a nod to the war that ended in 1975, Obama thanked Vietnam's government for helping the U.S. locate the remains of missing soldiers, and he pledged to help the Vietnamese government with the ongoing removal of land mines and un-exploded ordnance left over from the conflict.
Obama, who met with Vietnamese leaders throughout the day in the capital of Hanoi, also hailed new business agreements reached Monday, including an announcement that VietJet will buy 100 jets from Boeing in a deal valued at $11.3 billion.
The president travels to Ho Chi Minh City, the nation's commercial center, on Tuesday.
The biggest mutual investment between the two countries involves the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the deal has drawn opposition from lawmakers in the U.S. Congress — as well as presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders — Obama predicted to his audience in Vietnam that the pact will be approved, and should be.
"I remain confident we're going to get it done," Obama said. "This is the fastest growing part of the world."
Just before the news conference in Hanoi, Obama confirmed the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansur in a written statement issued by the White House.
"We have removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces, to wage war against the Afghan people, and align itself with extremist groups like al Qaeda," Obama said.