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Cablegate: Vietnam Requests Environmental Deliverables for Upcoming

VZCZCXRO4105
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0677/01 1610239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090239Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7970
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4824
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000677

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, OES/EGC, OES/STC
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE, G/ENV, EGAT/ESP (CHIP BARBER)
STATE PASS TO EPA/OIA (DENNIS CUNNINGHAM AND MARK KASMAN)
STATE PASS TO NOAA/NOS/OIA (JONATHAN JUSTI)
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE/INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS (CYNTHIA MACKIE AND
KELLI YOUNG)
BANGKOK PASS TO RDMA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG ECON KGHG VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM REQUESTS ENVIRONMENTAL DELIVERABLES FOR UPCOMING
PRIME MINISTER VISIT

Ref: A. Hanoi 108 B. 07 Hanoi 2053 C. 07 Hanoi 1869 D. Hanoi 537

1. (SBU) Summary: In separate meetings, the Minister and Senior
Vice-Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) detailed
to the Ambassador priority issues for the Government of Vietnam
(GVN) during the upcoming visit to Washington by Prime Minister
Nguyen Tan Dung. Both officials highlighted climate change as the
single most important environmental topic that Vietnam wants to
address and suggested several focused deliverables. In particular,
the GVN enthusiastically supports the creation of a new U.S.-Vietnam
committee on climate change, albeit at a low level with regard to
USG leadership and OES commitment. End Summary.

Climate Change Is a Top GVN Priority for PM Visit
--------------------------------------------- ----
2. (SBU) At the direction of the Prime Minister, MONRE Minister
Nguyen Khoi Pham requested a Saturday meeting with Ambassador
Michalak to detail the GVN's desired environmental deliverables for
the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to Washington. Two days
earlier, Senior Vice-Minister Nguyen Cong Thanh had requested a
meeting with the Ambassador to raise the same issues. Minister
Pham, who will accompany the Prime Minister to the United States,
stated that climate change was Vietnam's top environmental priority
for the visit. Pham noted that Prime Minister Dung had called this
issue "urgent" when directing him to seek the Saturday meeting.
Both senior officials noted that they hoped to build upon earlier
discussions with the Ambassador (Refs A, B, and C) to formulate a
detailed environmental cooperation package focusing on climate
change.

GVN Strongly Supports US-VN Climate Change Committee
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (SBU) The GVN hoped to highlight climate change in any joint
statement, while also detailing specific issues for potential
cooperation. Pham enthusiastically proposed the idea of a new
climate change subcommittee under the existing U.S.-Vietnam Joint
Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (JCM),
pursuant to the U.S.-Vietnam Agreement on Scientific and
Technological Cooperation (Bilateral S&T Agreement), as had been
discussed earlier by the Ambassador and Senior Vice-Minister Thanh
(Note: Our interlocutors at the Ministry of Science and Technology,
with whom we coordinate JCM activities, also embraced the proposal.
Indeed, Pham wanted to go further and establish an independent
committee pursuant to the Bilateral S&T Agreement. However, he
found the idea of the subcommittee, co-chaired by the Embassy
Environment, Science, Technology and Health Officer and a MONRE
representative, satisfactory. This would limit direct OES
involvement, and no Washington resources should be required in
managing this body. End Note.)

GVN Climate Change Wish List
----------------------------

4. (SBU) Pham and Thanh provided detailed lists of possible climate
change cooperation, including: 1) hydro-meteorology; 2) disaster
preparedness and response; 3) preparation of studies on impacts of
climate change on different sectors (environment, economy, human
health, food security); 4) technology transfer to reduce emissions
of greenhouse gases; 5) climate change monitoring systems; and 6)
additional adaptation resources. Thanh noted that these projects
would support ongoing GVN initiatives developed with the assistance
of the international community.

Additional Potential Environmental Deliverables
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (SBU) As MONRE covered a wide-range of issues, Pham hoped to
establish new or broader initiatives with a variety of U.S.
entities. Noting his admiration for the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), which he had twice visited, Pham requested
U.S. assistance to help Vietnam upgrade its environmental protection
capability, especially hazardous waste management. Pham and Thanh
additionally sought U.S. technical guidance to Vietnam's efforts to
eliminate persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including dioxin.
Pham thanked the Ambassador for the USD 3 million for dioxin
remediation and health projects and requested additional support to
continue to decontaminate various "hotspots." Thanh had told the
Ambassador that MONRE had briefed the Prime Minister on recent Agent

HANOI 00000677 002 OF 002


Orange/dioxin developments and the Prime Minister planned to raise
the issue during his visit. Pham also requested U.S. assistance to
respond to oil spills in the East Sea and to assess Vietnam's
mineral potential (described by Pham as a good opportunity for U.S.
commercial ventures).

The Way Forward
---------------

6. (SBU) Ambassador Michalak promised to raise Pham's proposals with
Washington officials in the context of U.S. preparation for the
Prime Minister's visit and as part of a longer-term review of
possible U.S.-Vietnam collaboration. While we did not have much
time to agree upon a detailed climate change agenda prior to the
trip, the United States would focus on identifying feasible targets
for cooperation. Ambassador Michalak noted that USAID had just
issued requests for proposals for health projects and for a new
Agent Orange/dioxin coordinator using funding from the USD 3 million
in ESF funds and stated that the two parties should highlight our
ongoing progress on this issue. Though the decision on whether to
draft a joint statement had not yet been reached, Ambassador
Michalak suggested that the Embassy and MONRE work to develop
language on climate change, dioxins, and general environmental
assistance that could be included in such a document or form the
basis for later discussions.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) It is not surprising that Vietnam's forward-thinking Prime
Minister is focusing on climate change as a centerpiece of his visit
to the United States. Vietnam is the Asian nation which would be
most affected by a rise on sea levels, and the Prime Minister wishes
to deepen cooperation with us as a technical leader on S&T issues.
The GVN admires the U.S. "brand," particularly in the areas of
environmental protection, high technology, and scientific research.
We support the creation of a climate change subcommittee under the
JCM, understanding that Mission Vietnam would manage that process.
We also urge Washington agencies to consider possible channels for
additional climate change cooperation with Vietnam. The GVN clearly
has identified this area as a priority (Ref D) and, under the
direction of the Prime Minister, has begun to mve quickly to focus
on adaptation and mitigation responses. Working with the GVN on
climate change allows the United States to join in ongoing
international efforts spearheaded by the UN and World Bank, and
deepen ties with an emerging partner in Southeast Asia.

ALOISI

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