HANOI, Vietnam (UPI) — President Barack Obama announced Monday he is lifting the decades-long arms embargo against Vietnam.

Obama made the announcement during a joint news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. The president said the move was not directed at balancing China’s growing presence in the region, but was the product of a new co-operation and understanding with Vietnam.

Over 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnam is still a Communist country with a bad human rights record. But the threat to many countries in the South China Seas region continues to grow and Vietnam has asked the embargo be lifted for years.

Obama said sales would be considered on a “case-by-case” basis.

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth tweeted that the president has chosen to “arm Vietnam as (an) anti-China ally rather than care about its ongoing repression.”

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