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Cablegate: Eap Das Marciel and Gvn Discuss Human Rights, Governance,

VZCZCXRO1003
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0087/01 0250952
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250952Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7046
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4179
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000087

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR KAYE LEE (D) AND
SATE FOR OBO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ABLD PBTS PHSA PHUM PREL ECON VM
SUBJECT: EAP DAS MARCIEL AND GVN DISCUSS HUMAN RIGHTS, GOVERNANCE,
VISITS AND CHINA

HANOI 00000087 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) This cable is Sensitive But Unclassified. For official use
only, not for posting on the internet.

2. (SBU) Summary: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel
discussed human rights, cooperation in governance reform and law
enforcement, and a possible visit by Prime Minister Dung to the
United States during January 21 discussions in Hanoi with the
Foreign Affairs and Public Security ministries. On human rights,
Marciel told the GVN that it needed to create more space for
political dialogue, to which his Foreign Affairs interlocutor
cautioned against empowering the anti-reform camp within the GVN.
Other issues that were discussed included Burma, Radio Free Asia and
resolving the impasse over Mission Hanoi's new embassy compound.
During his talks, Marciel also had a chance to gauge the reaction to
the cancellation due to weather problems of Deputy Secretary
Negroponte's January 18-20 visit. While initially confused, and
certainly disappointed, the GVN is now focused on seeing the visit
rescheduled, if possible at an early date. End comment.

HUMAN RIGHTS: "CREATE MORE POLITICAL SPACE"
-------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) DAS Scot Marciel visited Hanoi January 18-21, in part to
participate in Deputy Secretary Negroponte's meetings scheduled for
January 19. After the cancellation for weather reasons of the
Deputy Secretary's visit, Marciel carried on with scheduled calls
January 21 with GVN officials. Speaking with MFA Americas
Department Acting Director General Nguyen Ba Hung, Marciel said that
it was high time for Vietnam to liberalize to better provide for
internationally recognized freedoms for its citizens. "We
understand that every country is different," he told DG Hung,
anticipating the oft-used Vietnamese line, "but the key is that to
the extent that you feel more confident and secure, you need to
create more political space."

3. (SBU) DG Hung argued that Vietnam was doing just that, with "many
people voicing their opinions and criticism in the papers and the
internet." He added that the GVN leadership was learning to deal
unemotionally with irritants like congressional resolutions
criticizing Vietnam's human rights record, and the regular meetings
between visiting U.S. notables and Vietnamese dissidents --
something that Marciel himself planned to do later in the week in Ho
Chi Minh City (Septel). As proof of progress, Hung said that the
GVN was not interfering "harshly" with these meetings, despite the
fact that the dissidents seemed to come out of them thinking that
"the communists can do nothing to us."

4. (SBU) Still, Hung spent significant effort in cautioning the DAS
against pushing too hard on the human rights front. "There are
people [in the GVN] who are reluctant to move this relationship
forward," he said, who would be empowered if they could "link the
opening up of the relationship and the threat posed by dissidents."
Marciel shook his head and asked: "You are still worried about
threats to the 'revolution' after all this time?"

PRIME MINISTER'S DUNG PROJECTED U.S. VISIT
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) DG Hung told DAS Marciel that his office is working on a
specific proposal to submit to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung
outlaying possible scenarios and deliverables for a visit to the
United States, recalling President Bush's invitation extended in
November 2006. DG Hung asked for Marciel's opinion on which issues
could be expected to be raised during discussions in Washington.
Marciel replied that there would be many issues to cite spanning the
entire range of our multi-faceted relationship. Noting that he has
not coordinated with NSC on a response in advance, he cited
possible agreements on peacekeeping training, search and rescue
operations, education, the new embassy compound (NEC) or over HCMC's
consular jurisdiction as possible deliverables, among many others.

ON LACK OF PROGRESS IN BURMA
----------------------------

6. (SBU) DAS Marciel lamented that the Vietnamese position on Burma
to date was "not very supportive," but that he was "hopeful that
Vietnam will be more willing to speak up." Hung replied that "the
more you isolate them and pressure them, the more it benefits
China." He added that he understood that the Burmese were by nature
very "independent and daring" and would resist other countries'
attempts to impose their will over it, whether these came from the
United States or China. Marciel emphasized that continuation of the
political status quo would likely lead to instability, and that a
genuine dialogue with the opposition was the best way for Burma to
move forward.

SUPPORT ON ENHANCED COOPERATION
---------------------------------

HANOI 00000087 002.2 OF 002

7. (SBU) Both the Public Security (MPS) and MOFA officials
supported increased U.S. - Vietnam cooperation, including in the
area of law-enforcement. DG Hung said that he also had high hopes
for continuing cooperation on issues like governance reform and
improving the legal framework, and cited projects with the Ministry
of Justice, the National Assembly, and IPR cooperation as examples.
He again cautioned, however, that both sides needed to be mindful of
elements in the GVN which drew a clear line between reforms to
implement international agreements, such as the WTO and our
Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), and legal changes which could
empower enemies of the regime to "take the stage" and cause trouble.
"Legal is close to political," he said, and expressed his
preference for cooperation on reform initiatives that did not raise
these concerns.

8. (SBU) DG Hung acknowledged, however, that the GVN has pledged to
continue working together with the United States on governance and
rule of law issues, including through the early 2007 exchange of
letters between Senator Patrick Leahy (who wrote to President Nguyen
Minh Triet offering to facilitate an increase in assistance in these
areas) and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem
(who answered Leahy in positive terms on the GVN's behalf). MPS
Vice Minister Le The Tiem told Marciel that he felt optimistic about
the course of bilateral relations. He singled out International Law
Enforcement Academy (ILEA) training as a particularly successful
program.

D TRIP CANCELLATION
-------------------

9. (U) Both DG Hung and VM Tiem expressed regret over the
cancellation of Deputy Secretary Negroponte's trip, which they
seemed to take in stride. They said that the GVN had been well
prepared for the visit, and that they hoped to be able to welcome D
soon. DG Hung expressed his hope that the Deputy Secretary would be
able to reschedule his visit, repeatedly referring to the lost
opportunity created by his inability to hold discussions on January
19.

RADIO FREE ASIA
---------------

10. (SBU) DAS Marciel raised concerns over the jamming of Radio
Free Asia (RFA) programming. Hung replied that the GVN monitored
the content of foreign broadcasts, including the BBC. While the BBC
now carries balanced news about Vietnam, both good and bad, he
continued, the GVN now has "scientific" proof that the RFA
broadcasts only negative news, which he held distorts the real
developments in Vietnam. If the [RFA] was more like the BBC," he
concluded, "then there would be no problem."

SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE
-----------------------

11. (SBU) MFA officials told Marciel that they had been prepared to
discuss with Deputy Secretary Negroponte the contentious issue with
China over the South China Sea. It is "not that we are threatened,
but we are in tough situation," Hung said. He also implied that
China had been a key topic in then-ongoing Central Committee
meetings, and stated that many held that - while the United States'
role might be limited -- it could and should be "part of the
solution."

NEW EMBASSY COMPOUND
--------------------

12. (SBU) DAS Marciel also raised the protracted negotiations to
allow Embassy Hanoi to move out of its outdated and cramped
facilities, scattered over five locations in Hanoi. "It's time for
us to close this issue," he said. Hung replied that his office was
working hard on the issues, with the view of advancing the issue
over the coming weeks by presenting the USG with a proposal on price
and the conditions of sale.


13. (U) DAS Marciel cleared on this cable.

MICHALAK

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