WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Royce explained that the United States has a great deal of influence in Asia, with a number of Southeast Asian countries seeking closer US military ties in light of growing regional tensions.
"That’s influence the administration could use to press Vietnam to better its very bad human rights record. But that’s now leverage lost with today’s action," Royce said of President Barack Obama’s decision to allow lethal arms sales to Vietnam.
Earlier on Tuesday, Obama announced from Hanoi that the United States would lift the ban on arms sales to Vietnam, a measure that has been in place since 1984.
Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, opposed the decision to allow weapons sales, citing cases of Vietnamese repression, imprisonment of dissidents and singular Communist Party political rule.
Prior to Obama’s official visit to Vietnam, Royce penned a letter to the US president urging him to speak out in support of human rights and meet with Vietnamese political dissidents there.