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Cablegate: Still Lucid at 97: General Vo Nguyen Giap Talks Education

VZCZCXRO9551
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0516/01 1260947
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050947Z MAY 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7743
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4667
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000516

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ECON PGOV KCOR KPAO SOCI PREL VM

SUBJECT: STILL LUCID AT 97: GENERAL VO NGUYEN GIAP TALKS EDUCATION
WITH THE AMBASSADOR

Ref: 07 HANOI 1705

HANOI 00000516 001.2 OF 002


Summary
-------

1. (SBU) On April 25, the Ambassador and General Vo Nguyen Giap
discussed efforts to increase educational exchanges between the
United States and Vietnam. After imploring the Ambassador to work
to bring the overall relationship to an even higher level, Giap
echoed the Ambassador's desire to see more Vietnamese study in the
United States. Giap also pleaded for the Ambassador's help in
getting a U.S. university to open a branch in Vietnam. While the
General repeated himself a few times during the 40 minute
conversation, he left no doubt he is a fan of U.S. educational
institutions. Giap is the hero of Vietnam's 1954 victory over the
French at Dien Bien Phu and an icon in Vietnam who has remained
somewhat politically active despite his 97 years of age. End
Summary.

Context
-------

2. (SBU) On April 25, the Ambassador met Vietnamese national hero
and Ho Chi Minh's chief military strategist, General Vo Nguyen Giap,
at the General's Hanoi home. Due to his age and frail health, Giap
receives visitors only infrequently. In seeking this meeting with
the General, our note underscored the Ambassador's desire to discuss
bilateral educational exchanges. Giap has been outspoken about the
need for reform of Vietnam's educational system, most recently last
year issuing a public letter calling for systemic reform (Reftel).

3. (SBU) When the Ambassador and Poloffs arrived, Giap, his wife and
son, and a few Party officials were waiting in a living room of the
General's home. Giap, who did not get up from his seat, was dressed
in military uniform. No press representatives were present. On the
table in front of where the Ambassador and the General sat was a
tape player that recorded the conversation -- perhaps indicating
Party officials still feel compelled, despite Giap's advanced age,
to keep tabs on what the General tells his foreign interlocutors.
(Note: After sidelining Giap, then removing him from the Politburo
in 1982, reportedly for his opposition to the invasion of Cambodia,
Party rivals continued to monitor the General's activities and
conversations. End Note.)

We Are Now Friends
------------------

4. (SBU) The General began by noting that the United States and
Vietnam are enjoying peaceful relations, with Vietnam now hosting a
fourth post-war American ambassador. Giap relayed that he met with
most of the Ambassador's predecessors, who "demonstrated goodwill"
towards Vietnam. Giap implored the Ambassador to bring the overall
relationship to an even higher level. He said the GVN has achieved
a lot of late and is "trying hard" in all areas. The Ambassador
responded that he shares the General's desire for better relations
and pointed out that he is committed to doubling the number of
Vietnamese students who study in the United States.

Zeroing In On Education
-----------------------

5. (SBU) The GVN is focused on improving its educational and
scientific capabilities so the country can join the ranks of the
developed countries, Giap said. Hanoi has progressed in the
education area, but much needs to be done, he added. The increase
in the number of Vietnamese exports heading to the United States is
just an "initial development" in the relationship and economic ties
are bound to grow, he offered. Giap said the most important thing
-- pointing his finger in the air for emphasis -- is the "human
element." The Communist Party has made improving Vietnam's
educational system its number one priority, he stated.

6. (SBU) The United States and Vietnam could talk a lot, but "deeds
are more important than words," the General continued. He asked
that the Ambassador pay special attention to education because what
has been done so far to get Vietnamese students to study in America
"has not been sufficient." Although a large number of Vietnamese
students are enrolled at U.S. educational institutions, this is just
a start, he added. He averred that a U.S. university should
establish itself in Vietnam. Perhaps it could be a joint
U.S.-Vietnamese university, he said.

7. (SBU) The Ambassador responded that we have heard that Prime
Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also wants a U.S. university to set up in
Vietnam. "You must have talked to him about this," the Ambassador
said, which elicited laughter. The General replied that, from time
to time, he does talk to the PM about education issues in Vietnam.
Giap added that, on many occasions, he has made public his points on
science and education.

HANOI 00000516 002.2 OF 002

Comment: Approaching 100 But Still Lucid
----------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Giap repeated himself a few times during the 40 minute
meeting, but spoke with clarity about the importance he attaches to
education. With a doctorate in economics and as a former high
school teacher whose daughter and grandchildren have studied at
American universities, the General made clear that he sees U.S.
educational institutions as important to Vietnam's future.

MICHALAK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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