Handout photo of workers on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 JSF at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas. REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout
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Vietnam hosts a defense symposium this week attended by top American arms manufacturers, ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama and as Washington weighs whether to lift an arms embargo on its former enemy.The Hanoi symposium comes amid debate within the U.S. administration over whether to respond to Vietnam's longstanding request to remove an arms embargo that is one of the last major vestiges of the Vietnam War era.Washington eased the embargo in late 2014, but has said any decision to lift it completely would hinge on the extent to which Vietnam has demonstrated progress in improving its human rights record. Though the communist parties that run China and Vietnam officially have brotherly ties, experts say Beijing's brinkmanship has forced Vietnam to recalibrate its defense strategy.Tim Huxley, a regional security expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said Vietnam's interest in getting the arms embargo lifted was not only about access to U.S. technology, but boosting its bargaining power.
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