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Cablegate: Follow Up On Uscirf Visit Dates

VZCZCXRO6309
PP RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1642 2561700
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131700Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6342
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3693
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS HANOI 001642

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS
NSC FOR ASIA

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KIRF PHUM VM

SUBJECT: FOLLOW UP ON USCIRF VISIT DATES

REF: Hanoi 1625

1.(SBU) Summary: Despite repeated Mission Vietnam demarches, the GVN
has yet to reverse its decision and allow a visit by U.S. Commission
on Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commissions later this month (reftel).
The MFA continues to hold that it is fully engaged in short-term
critical priorities. Vietnamese officials pledge to engage quickly
on alternate dates later this year, stating that they wish to host a
successful third USCIRF visit before the end of the year. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) In response to September 11 request by GVN to postpone
USCIRF visit (reftel), post on September 12 delivered a letter from
Ambassador Michalak to Vice Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh urging
the GVN to reconsider its postponement request. In a September 12
meeting with MFA's Americas Acting Director General Nguyen Ba Hung,
the DCM expressed concern at the postponement and strongly urged the
GVN to allow the trip to go forward on its proposed dates. Ba Hung
responded that Vietnam recognized the significance of the USCIRF
visit and that Vietnam will host this visit, as it has successfully
done twice before.

3. (SBU) Ba Hung further said the MFA faces a short-term "capacity
problems" that prevent it from devoting its energy to preparing for
the visit. First, the MFA International Organizations Bureau, which
will be charged with coordinating the visit, is completely engaged
in preparations in Vietnam's campaign to win a UNSC seat in the
upcoming UNGA sessions. The Americas Department is similarly fully
engaged in the related issue of preparing for the Prime Minister's
visit later this month to New York. Moreover, the Committee on
Religious Affairs, which would play a key role in the delegation's
program, recently had its line authority changed - it now reports to
the Ministry of Home Affairs and is adjusting its procedures
accordingly. The DCM regretted that the MFA had not considered
these limitations weeks ago, but only now raised them, after
significant coordination has already taken place to clear the
calendars of USCIRF commissioners.

4. (SBU) On September 13, Mission Vietnam reiterated these points in
further demarches with the MFA. The GVN, in reply, repeated its
pledge to host the visit before the end of the year, and further
promised to re-engage on possible alternative dates in the near
future.

MICHALAK

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