Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with Vice Foreign Minister On Prime
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0592/01 1411008
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201008Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7857
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4744
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000592
STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL CM VM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH VICE FOREIGN MINISTER ON PRIME
MINISTER'S "STRATEGIC" VISIT TO U.S.
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1.(SBU) Summary: In a May 19 meeting with the Ambassador, Vice
Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh emphasized that the upcoming visit
to the United States by Prime Minister Dung had "strategic
importance" and took a serious effort by the GVN to arrange. Minh
and the Ambassador discussed possible deliverables for the visit in
the areas of education, climate change, human rights, and consular
district issues. They also exchanged views on Vietnam's role on the
UN Security Council, cyclone assistance to Burma and concerns about
China's role in the South China Sea. End summary.
2. (SBU) Minh said the Prime Minister's visit had "strategic
importance" and had required major reshuffling of the Vietnamese
leaderships' schedules in order for the visit to the United States
to occur this year. The Prime Minister had recently convened an
interministerial meeting to discuss the wide range of areas that
could be addressed in the context of a visit. Minh said in his own
meetings with NSC and State in April he understood that there was
difficulty in finding a date when Blair House was available, but
that in any case the visit itself was not in question.
3. (SBU) On deliverables, Minh said the Ministry of Education and
Training was sending a team to Texas to look at possibly signing
MOUs with universities there. There has been an "evolution" in
Vietnamese thinking, and the country now wants schools with U.S.
curricula and teachers. The Ambassador noted that, while MOUs could
be valuable, time was short and a joint task force could pull
together a number of initiatives following up on the visit.
4. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that our bilateral Human Rights
Dialogue is set for May 29 and that it offered an opportunity for
progress ahead of the Prime Minister's visit. He pointed out that
one simple change the GVN could make for press freedom would be to
allow foreign news organizations to open offices in Ho Chi Minh
City. Currently they can only have offices in Hanoi and must travel
to the south to report. Minh said this could be considered.
5. (SBU) Minh said climate change was another area of high GVN
interest, and the Ambassador said we are preparing a package of
deliverables in this area. Among other deliverables, GVN
participation in the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative
(GPOI) would be welcome. Minh said the GVN was open to sending
personnel for training for noncombat operations. On the AO/dioxin
issue, a team from the Embassy is doing an assessment in Danang this
week and EPA is coming out to Vietnam to consider next steps. Minh
said any concrete steps on this before the Prime Minister's visit
would be welcome. On adoptions, the Ambassador pushed for a GVN
commitment to join the Hague Convention and said the USG could offer
6. (SBU) Discussing Vietnam's tensions with China in the South China
Sea, Minh said the situation could be solved peacefully and Vietnam
is ready to negotiate. Asked about an ASEAN role, Minh responded
that the ASEAN countries have different interests but the various
claimants try to work together. The Ambassador said the U.S.
supports dialogue and remains concerned about Chinese harassment of
companies working in the area. Minh noted he understood from his
April consultations in Washington that this was an issue POTUS would
like to discuss with the Prime Minister.
7. (SBU) On cyclone assistance to Burma, Minh said Vietnam was
offering to send a medical team but was facing transportation
issues. The Ambassador noted that the USG has airlift capability
and renewed our offer to transport Vietnamese supplies and personnel
to Burma. Minh was noncommittal, but noted that the GVN is in touch
with the Burmese regime and that it is changing and becoming more
8. (SBU) On the UN Security Council, the Ambassador thanked Minh for
Vietnam's support on Iran sanctions but noted that we had
differences over other issues such as a resolution on Somali piracy.
Minh said Vietnam feels it is important that its voice is heard.
The GVN's concern had been that the resolution could be expanded to
include other areas including the South China sea. That clause was
changed, Minh said, but the resolution would set a precedent for
acting against a nonstate actor and piracy is not as serious a
threat to international security as terrorism. To the Ambassador's
observation that some in the U.S. say Vietnam is simply following
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) positions, Minh responded that Vietnam is
after all a NAM member.
9. (SBU) Minh said the GVN is focused on solving the remaining
issues regarding the New Embassy Compound (NEC) in the context of
Prime Minister's visit. Minh said the U.S. side misunderstood that
the 99-year lease the GVN offered was not renewable. He clarified
that it is in fact renewable but that renewal is not automatic - the
USG just requests renewal six months before the lease runs out. The
HANOI 00000592 002.2 OF 002
Ambassador responded that 99 years plus "maybe" 99 more does not
equal freehold. The Ambassador then asked about the possibility of
the 70 year plus 70 arrangement offered for private investment.
Minh asserted that such an arrangement is not for diplomats and that
there is no precedent - we are already far down the road on this and
changing tack now would complicate things in a negative way. The
Ambassador said if nothing can be worked out we would be back to the
issue of reciprocity.
10. (SBU) Minh said the GVN is considering sending a team to Houston
to look at property for a new consulate. The Ambassador said that
would not be a problem as long as the GVN signed no agreements - a
Houston consulate for the GVN could be established at the same time
the Ho Chi Minh City consular district issue is resolved. Minh
agreed that this was possible. Minh noted that the GVN is still
pressing for permission to issue visas in New York, and the
Ambassador said he would look into the issue.