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Cablegate: Gvn Will Support Arf Disaster Preparedness Statement, But

VZCZCXRO8468
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0715 1650903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130903Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8021
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4860
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HANOI 000715

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ARF EAID ASEAN BM VM
SUBJECT: GVN WILL SUPPORT ARF DISASTER PREPAREDNESS STATEMENT, BUT
NOT TAKE THE LEAD

REF: STATE 61440

1. (SBU) Summary. The GVN will support an ARF Statement on Regional
Disaster Preparedness, but cannot take the lead due to resource
constraints. Burma was cited as an example of why such preparedness
is needed, and also why an ASEAN member should take the lead. End
Summary

2. (SBU) On June 13, poloff discussed reftel points about issuing an
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Statement on Regional
Disaster Preparedness with MFA ASEAN Department Assistant Director
Vu Ho. Ho said the GVN would have nothing against the proposed
statement, however, his ministry has neither the time or personnel
to deal with drafting the statement. He said his department is
currently swamped with ASEAN Charter-related taskings. Ho thought
the statement might proceed best by following the "ASEAN Way," with
either current ASEAN chair Singapore or upcoming chair Thailand
taking the lead.

3. (SBU) Ho commented that Vietnam supports efforts to prepare for
disasters with a focus on humanitarian relief, not political
advantage. He liked the idea of the statement and a disaster
response action plan. He cited two hindrances to disaster relief
following Cyclone Nargis. First was the issue of Burma's lack of
confidence in donor countries' intentions; when GVN officials urged
Burma to allow international relief efforts, the Burmese regime
replied that it could not trust outsiders because of previous
criticism. Burmese officials also commented on the presence of U.S.
and French naval ships off Burma's coast, saying the GOB could not
allow foreign military to cross its borders. According to Ho, the
second obstacle was the Burmese government structure; every decision
had to be cleared by "the man at the top," which took too long.

4. (SBU) Ho suggested that Thailand will be a productive ASEAN
chairman. It will want to elevate its image in ASEAN circles. He
also mentioned that the U.S. proposed ARF vision statement is not
moving ahead and will still need lengthy discussion. The GVN is
waiting for Singapore to send the draft. Finally, Ho mentioned that
Vietnam is preparing a submission to the ARF annual security outlook
for the first time in seven years. He said the Ministry of Defense
is the lead GVN drafting agency and that it will be submitted to
Singapore and published in July.

ALOISI

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