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Cablegate: Gvn Response to Upcoming U.S. Arf Initiatives

VZCZCXRO5803
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0111 0310827
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 310827Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7077
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4208
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HANOI 000111

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ARF PTER VM
SUBJECT: GVN RESPONSE TO UPCOMING U.S. ARF INITIATIVES

REF: State 8005

1. (SBU) On January 31, Poloff met with MFA ASEAN Department
Assistant Director General Tran Duc Binh and ASEAN Department
Specialist Phan Minh Giang to deliver reftel points and to handover
the Counterterrorism Transnational Crime (CTTC) Workplan proposal
and U.S. comments to the draft Review of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
Paper. Pham said the GVN would like to see the role of ARF
expanded, but at a pace that is comfortable for all its members. He
recognized that there is sentiment among non-ASEAN ARF members for a
larger role in the ARF process, but affirmed the GVN position that
ASEAN should remain the driver in ARF.

2. (SBU) Binh noted that, as an ASEAN document, the Review of ARF
Paper represented the GVN's views. Responding to the specific U.S.
comments to the paper, Binh suggested that after 14 years of
existence, it might be time for an ARF vision statement. The GVN is
already looking ahead to 2010 when it will assume the chairmanship
of ASEAN and ARF. Binh said the GVN must consider its vision for
ASEAN in advance of its chairmanship. He also thought strengthening
the ARF secretariat is an idea worth considering. He underlined its
current weakness by pointing out that the ARF website is several
years out-of-date. Concerning delinking the ASEAN and ARF
chairmanships and de-emphasizing ASEAN's centrality in ARF, Binh
commented that these issues would be "tough nuts to crack" because
they are "close to the hearts" of ASEAN members. He mentioned that
Singapore plans to distribute another revised draft Review of ARF
Paper to all ARF members in early February.

3. (SBU) Concerning the CTTC Workplan, Binh said the MFA would
review the proposal and prepare its response in advance of the
February 21-22 ISM on CTTC in Indonesia.

MICHALAK

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