Donald Trump will welcome Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the White House on Wednesday. The visit will be a display of reinvigorated ties between the former enemies and follows President Obama’s historic visit to Hanoi last year.
While relations between the US and Vietnam were virtually non-existent until 1995, they’ve warmed substantially in recent years as Vietnam seeks to hedge against an increasingly assertive China.
Significantly, Obama’s visit last May brought about the dismantlement of a Cold War-era arms embargo, and with it the full normalisation of ties. While Vietnam has expressed interest in drone technology, P-3C Orions and the F-16 fighter jets for maritime surveillance, no major arms deals have eventuated—something PM Phuc may seek to change on Wednesday.
The warming of relations bodes well for the US, particularly as traditional regional allies Thailand and the Philippines seek to strengthen ties with China over disagreements with Washington. Expect the South China Sea dispute and future arms deals to top the agenda behind closed doors.