Cablegate: Ambassador Meets with President Triet to Discuss U.S.

DE RUEHHI #1099/01 1640930
R 130930Z JUN 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (SBU) During a June 13 meeting with the Ambassador, President
Nguyen Minh Triet strongly underlined his hope that his upcoming
visit to the United States and meeting with President Bush will help
to advance the bilateral relationship and deepen Vietnam's
friendship with the United States. The Ambassador and Triet
discussed human rights at length, and the Ambassador expressed hope
that the United States and Vietnam would be able to find concrete
ways to cooperate in the areas of rule of law, good governance and
anti-corruption. Triet stated in familiar terms Vietnam's concerns
with "terrorists" and "lawbreakers," and asked that human rights
"not be raised highly" during his meeting with President Bush.
Triet also expressed confidence that a number of potential
deliverables in the areas of anti-money laundering, intellectual
property rights protection and peaceful use of nuclear energy, would
be wrapped up in time. On Peace Corps, Triet listened with interest
as the Ambassador explained the USG position, and pledged to study
the matter and respond soon. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The Ambassador met for nearly an hour June 13 with
President Nguyen Minh Triet to discuss Triet's upcoming visit to the
United States and June 22 meeting with President Bush. The
Ambassador opened by underlining the significant progress our two
countries have made over the past two years, particularly in 2006
with President Bush's visit to Vietnam. President Triet's upcoming
meeting with President Bush will be the senior most interaction this
year, and it will be an important occasion to maintain the bilateral
relationship's momentum. While the United States and Vietnam hope
that the visit will be a success, both sides need to take steps to
make this happen, and the key will be for us to be able to look back
and describe in concrete terms what we accomplished during the

Human Rights

3. (SBU) One issue that President Triet's visit could help to
advance is human rights, the Ambassador continued. This is a matter
of particular concern to the American people, USG and U.S. Congress,
and will no doubt be raised during President Triet's discussions in
the United States. One way for our two countries to engage
cooperatively on human rights is through bilateral programs in the
areas of good governance, rule of law and anti-corruption. DPM/FM
Khiem recently responded (on behalf of President Triet) to Senator
Leahy's letter proposing cooperative activities in these areas, and
this was a step in the right direction. However, both sides will
need to work hard to turn this positive sentiment into concrete

Visit Deliverables

4. (SBU) Another very important aspect of the bilateral relationship
is trade and investment, the Ambassador went on. Through both
sides' hard work, we have reached agreement in principle on a Trade
and Investment Framework Agreement, the signing of which would be a
major step in our commercial and economic relationship. However, it
would be disappointing if a TIFA signing were the sole deliverable
of the visit. Both sides are working hard to bring to closure
agreements on the Peace Corps, intellectual property rights
protection, peaceful use of nuclear energy and very important
commercial deals. All of these agreements are within sight, but we
will need to work hard to finalize them in time for the visit. In
addition, we need to find ways to deepen and institutionalize
cooperation on anti-money laundering.


5. (SBU) A subject that the United States and Vietnam can point to
with pride is that of our cooperative efforts to address dioxin, the
Ambassador noted. Since Presidents Bush and Triet included the
matter in their November 2006 Joint Statement, we have seen
significant progress, and the U.S. Congress recently appropriated
USD three million for environmental remediation and support for
health programs near contaminated sites. Once internal USG
discussions are completed, we will coordinate with the GVN on how
best to move forward, the Ambassador said.

Progress Possible For Some Deliverables

6. (SBU) President Triet agreed that bilateral relations have
developed well over the past several years and expressed his hope
that his visit to the United States will help to further enhance
bilateral friendship and cooperation. For its part, the GVN will
"do more" to conclude as soon as possible the various agreements

HANOI 00001099 002.2 OF 003

raised by the Ambassador. Within the GVN, particular ministries and
organizations have been tasked with discussing these agreements with
their American counterparts, and while there is agreement on the
agreements' goals, differences remain regarding specific contents.

7. (SBU) Peace Corps is one example, President Triet noted. The GVN
agreed to receive 20 volunteers, but the USG wants to send more.
The GVN would like to proceed in a step-by-step manner and consider
at a later date increasing the number of volunteers; this approach
better suits Vietnam, and President Triet asked the Ambassador to
"please explain this" to Washington. Triet was more optimistic
about other agreements. On anti-money laundering cooperation,
"there should be no hurdles" because Vietnam "always opposes money
laundering." Intellectual property rights protection cooperation
should also go smoothly because, as a new member of WTO, Vietnam
needs to comply with the organization's regulations. Regarding a
peaceful use of nuclear energy agreement, Vietnam has no desire to
use nuclear energy for anything but peaceful ends, namely to provide
electricity to fuel its economic growth. On these and other
agreements, the MFA and other relevant agencies will work closely
with the Embassy and USG to bring them to a close.

Triet Responds on Human Rights

8. (SBU) Turning to human rights, President Triet stated flatly
that, during his U.S. visit and discussions with President Bush,
both sides will not resolve their differences on this matter. The
two countries still have different conceptions about human rights,
different legal systems and different levels of development. This
is true everywhere in the world. Therefore, both sides need to
understand each other better. For its part, Vietnam will try to
narrow the gap with the United States. But the United States must
understand that, with its low per capita income of under USD
1,000/year, Vietnam's number one goal is economic growth, and to
achieve this it needs stability. Vietnam condemns all obstacles to
development and growth, such as corruption and trafficking and use
of narcotics.

9. (SBU) Vietnam also condemns terrorist acts, President Triet
continued, and Vietnam cannot accept those who want to overthrow the
government. The GVN only punishes those who violate Vietnam's laws;
"we do not punish dissidents," he stressed. Those who were arrested
had established and participated in organizations, with the help of
overseas groups, whose aim was to overthrow the government. If the
same thing happened in the United States, surely the USG would take
action and punish these individuals. Vietnam and the United States
continue to have differences, but they can be addressed through

10. (SBU) During the meeting with President Bush, if human rights
"gets put on the table," it will not be in the interest of both
countries, President Triet went on. Of course, President Bush will
likely raise this matter, but he should take into consideration that
the issue of human rights is discussed often and in other fora. "It
would be better for President Bush and I to highlight other issues
in the bilateral relationship," President Triet suggested. If the
issue of human rights is "raised too highly" in the discussions,
"this may erase some of the goodwill" that the Vietnamese people
have towards the United States, President Triet said.

11. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that the United States raises human
rights because it is a core American value and a concern of the
international community. If individuals plan to use or call for
violence to effect political change, then they should be stopped.
However, if they use words or thoughts to do the same, then this
should be allowed, as stated in the UN Convention on Civil and
Political Rights, of which Vietnam is a signatory. We look forward
to the day when there is more political space in Vietnam, the
Ambassador said. The United States would also like to see the
release of detained and imprisoned political activists, but we know
this will not happen overnight. However, we hope that it happens
soon, just as we were pleased that Nguyen Vu Binh was released and
allowed to rejoin his family.

12. (SBU) This is why we raised the issue of cooperative programs in
the area of rule of law and elsewhere, the Ambassador continued.
Part of Vietnam's reform agenda is legal and judicial reform, and we
can work together on this usefully. While a bilateral dialogue on
our differences regarding human rights is important and should
continue, it is not enough. We need to construct a way to work
together to put our thoughts into action, the Ambassador said.

Further Push Needed On Agreements, Including Peace Corps
--------------------------------------------- ------

13. (SBU) Similarly, although both sides want a number of official
and commercial agreements to happen, we need to address the details.
Hopefully, Boeing and other important deals can be concluded soon;

HANOI 00001099 003.2 OF 003

it would be disappointing if President Triet's visit did not yield
any major commercial deals, in spite of the hard work of both sides.
A Gannon power plant deal may be close, and hopefully we can bring
it to closure and speak publicly about it, the Ambassador said.

14. (SBU) On Peace Corps, the Ambassador said he recognizes that a
step-by-step approach is necessary, but the real issue is the size
of these steps. It makes no financial sense to start Peace Corps
off in Vietnam without a reasonable platform size, and this has to
be more than 20 volunteers. Responding to President Triet's
invitation to discuss this in more detail, the Ambassador explained
that, in addition to four staff members (which we have agreed on),
we would have 30 volunteers for 27 months; after this initial
group's first 15 months, another 30 volunteers would arrive, leading
to a total of 60 volunteers and four staff at any one time. Both
sides have also agreed that the volunteers would focus on education
and would be based in Hanoi and HCMC. President Triet responded
that Vietnam will take this matter seriously and provide an answer
"before the Ambassador departs" (June 16).

15. (SBU) Wrapping up, the Ambassador also noted that both sides
should continue to work hard on concrete measures to build the
relationship, especially immediately after President Triet's visit.
Besides the Boeing and Gannon projects, there are many other
commercial deals in the pipeline, as well as a number of other
important agreements requiring further progress, such as for New
Embassy Compound land and to open new consular offices in each
other's country. President Triet expressed his thanks for the
Ambassador's contributions to the bilateral relationship and
repeated his hope that his upcoming visit to the United States will
help to advance our two countries' ties. "The most important thing
is to improve our cooperation and friendship; Vietnam wants to
enhance its relationship with the United States," he stressed.
President Triet concluded by asking to see the Ambassador again
before he finishes his assignment in Vietnam.


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