Vietnam's defense minister says that questions about human rights violations by his government should have no bearing on whether the U.S. should fully remove its ban on lethal weapons sales to Hanoi.

Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh spoke after meetings here with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Carter says U.S. officials routinely have very candid discussions on political and internal issues with Vietnamese leaders, and said those issues intersect with security matters.

Last October the U.S. partially lifted its ban on weapons sales to Vietnam, allowing only the sale of lethal maritime security and surveillance capabilities. Vietnam wants the ban fully lifted.

Carter says the two countries are working to do military operations together and the U.S. will help Vietnam prepare to begin participating in U.N. peacekeeping missions.