WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Monday after President Obama announced the United States would be lifting its arms embargo on Vietnam:
“I welcome this development as an important element of our effort to build a stronger, deeper partnership with Vietnam, but I do so with my reiterated call to better balance security needs with adherence to basic human rights.
“So for now I’m cautiously optimistic that the joint statement between our two nations includes a commitment from the Vietnamese to revise and draft new laws addressing religion and belief and association. In making the announcement yesterday President Obama also clearly reaffirmed the importance of human rights.
“The onus is now on the government of Vietnam to make tangible progress to secure and protect greater human dignity for their people, and on the United States, as a partner and friend, to hold Vietnam accountable. As I have implored their leadership during my travels to Hanoi and in meetings in Washington, the recent arrests and curtailments of free speech, religious preference and peaceful assembly have been deeply troubling.
“I will continue to speak out for human rights progress and good governance assurances with the Obama Administration, the next administration, and the Vietnamese government.”