President Barack Obama
President Barack ObamaReuters

Washington will lift a decades-old arms embargo on Vietnam, US President Barack Obama announced during a state visit to Hanoi Monday, in an effort to bring normalization. 

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang first announced the news, which Obama then confirmed. 

"The United States is fully lifting the ban on sale of military equipment to Vietnam that's been in place for some 50 years," he said, rejecting an "across-the-board ban."

 "Sales will need to still meet strict requirements, including those on human rights, but this change ensures Vietnam has access to equipment it needs to defend itself," he continued. 

"Just a generation ago, we were adversaries and now we are friends," Obama added, saying diplomatic ties between Vietnam and the US have “reached a new moment." 

Obama already partially lifted the arms embargo in 2014, to some controversy. 

Ahead of criticism over the newest move, the POTUS also denied the decision has to do with Chinese aggression in the region, of which the two countries have shared concerns. 

"It's based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam," he insisted. 

58,220 US military soldiers died during the Vietnam War. 

Obama's move follows a similar normalization process with Cuba, culminating in the highly controversial resumption of diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana earlier this year.