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Cablegate: Das Marciel and Vietnam's Policy Planning Dg Discuss Kim

VZCZCXRO2527
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1049/01 2590058
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150058Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8446
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH PRIORITY 5106
RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001049

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS BLACKSHAW, S/P GREEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM VM

SUBJECT: DAS MARCIEL AND VIETNAM'S POLICY PLANNING DG DISCUSS KIM
JONG-IL, BURMA, ASEAN, AND BILATERAL RELATIONS

HANOI 00001049 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a wide-ranging discussion with visiting EAP
DAS Scot Marciel, MFA Director General for Policy Planning Bui Thanh
Son offered Vietnam's perspectives on engagement with Burma and the
difficulties Vietnam faces in coordinating a more robust ASEAN
position on territorial issues in the South China Sea. DAS Marciel
emphasized the importance of continued improvements in religious
freedom and urged Vietnam to have the confidence to allow its
citizens to voice disparate political views. DG Son acknowledged
the need for ASEAN's nascent human rights dialogue to be credible,
and said that Vietnam would be prepared to take an active role. DG
Son demurred on the question of possible S/P talks, noting that his
office was already scheduled to meet with the EU on October 31. END
SUMMARY.

BURMA
-----

2. (SBU) DG Son stated that Vietnam's Burma policy has two
principle objectives: to benefit the people of Burma, and to
strengthen ASEAN as a whole. To this end, Vietnam has encouraged
Burma to implement its roadmap to democracy and to open a dialogue
with Aung San Suu Kyi. Son added that Vietnam is in a unique
position to share with Burma its experience in emerging from
isolation. DAS Marciel agreed that Burma's leaders would likely
listen to messages from Hanoi more readily than from Washington, but
suggested that Burma's military rulers were much more cut off from
society than Vietnam's were, even twenty years ago. The regime's
insistence that its constitutional referendum proceed even as bodies
were floating in the Irrawaddy Delta was perhaps the starkest
example of this. DAS Marciel cautioned that the junta's roadmap is
fundamentally flawed because it offers no opportunity for Burma's
people to meaningfully participate. DAS Marciel assured DG Son that
the United States is not pursuing regime change in Burma, but wanted
to see a broadening of the political process. The problem is that
the Burmese regime shows absolutely no willingness to make even the
slightest opening. DAS Marciel emphasized that without progress,
Burma will continue to preclude a U.S.-ASEAN summit. He expressed
hope that Vietnam would continue to urge Burmese authorities to
implement reforms, open up to the world and begin a dialogue with
their people.

ASEAN AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) DG Son voiced frustration over China's attempts to
intimidate international companies that might want to work in
Vietnam's continental-shelf waters, but could see few options for
Vietnam. DG Son agreed that in principle it was in Vietnam's
interest to promote a more forceful, coordinated ASEAN position on
the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The problem, he
explained, was that it was extremely difficult to get ASEAN members
to agree on anything more than a simple reaffirmation of the status
quo. DAS Marciel stated that while it takes no position on the
legal issues surrounding the competing territorial claims, the USG
is concerned about pressure on its companies.

HUMAN RIGHTS
------------

4. (SBU) DAS Marciel emphasized that as ASEAN strives to figure out
how best to approach human rights, any institution that it creates
to deal with the issue must be seen as credible. DG Son agreed,
adding that unlike ten years ago, Vietnam was now in a much more
confident position and could play an active role within ASEAN on
human rights.

5. (SBU) DAS Marciel encouraged Vietnam to be similarly confident
in allowing its own citizens to voice a variety of political
opinions, noting that while there had been progress in religious
freedom, there had not been similar advances in political rights and
freedom of speech. He emphasized that in order to be able to do
their jobs, U.S. diplomats must be able to meet a wide range of
people throughout society who hold different views.

NON-ANSWER ON POLICY PLANNING TALKS
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) DG Son expressed appreciation for S/P Director Gordon's
interest in holding policy planning talks, but declined to commit.
Son noted that his department was already scheduled to hold talks
with EU counterparts on the proposed date (October 31) and again
suggested that many of the topics under consideration could be
covered in A/S Kimmitt's political-military talks October 6. DAS
Marciel pointed out that the United States does not hold policy
planning talks with many countries and was interested in learning
more about Vietnam's strategic view, particularly on regional
affairs. He emphasized that policy planning talks are meant to be

HANOI 00001049 002.2 OF 002


longer-term and broader in perspective than the pol-mil discussions,
which are more narrowly focused.

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