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Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with Mod External Relations Department

VZCZCXRO7627
OO RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1417/01 3660718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 310718Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8959
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5445
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001417

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR DOC AND DOD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON ETRD MARR VM

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH MOD EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
HEAD, LT GEN LAN

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ambassador Michalak met with Director of the
External Relations Department at the Ministry of Defense (MOD),
Lieutenant General Pham Thanh Lan, December 18 to discuss MIAs (both
U.S. and Vietnamese), U.S. support for demining activities, Agent
Orange remediation activities, and disaster preparedness, and
thanked the General for his assistance in obtaining final approval
for the new DATT. General Lan voiced enthusiasm for bilateral
defense cooperation and agreed in principle to propose a visit by
Vietnam's Minister of Defense to Washington, possibly in the third
or fourth quarter of 2009. The Ambassador expressed strong support
for the U.S. company AAE's $9.8 million bid to win a MOD Satellite
Communications Equipment tender. END SUMMARY.

A Possible MinDef Visit in Late 2009
------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Ambassador and General Lan commented on the positive
direction of the overall bilateral relationship, citing the number
of high-level visits, including PM Dung's June visit to Washington
and the recently concluded meetings in Hanoi of Senator Baucus.
Defense ties are improving as well, with opportunities for
cooperation in areas such as flight safety, search and rescue,
disaster preparedness, and humanitarian and medical assistance.
General Lan specifically mentioned the search for U.S. and
Vietnamese MIAs as an area of robust cooperation. The General
commented on the number of Vietnamese military officers who have
received training in the U.S. and noted that in 2009 there would be
U.S. training courses in Vietnam.

3. (SBU) General Lan reacted positively to a suggestion that
Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh consider visiting the United
States, possibly in the third or fourth quarter of 2009. The two
sides agreed that with the U.S. Secretary of Defense continuing to
serve under the new administration, it will be easier to build on
the positive momentum, and that a meeting would be useful.

A Rational Plan for Unexploded Ordinance
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Moving to an area that General Lan cited as a major
positive aspect of the relationship, the Ambassador emphasized the
need for an overall plan for dealing unexploded ordinance, noting
that the lack of such a national plan put Vietnam at a comparative
disadvantage when competing for U.S. funds, despite considerable
support in Congress and within the Department of Defense. In this
vein, the Ambassador specifically asked for clarification regarding
the roles of BOMISEN and VBMAC. The General thanked the Ambassador
for the frank assessment and agreed that Vietnam could do more to
formulate a rational plan.

Approval for the DATT
---------------------

5. (SBU) General Lan acknowledged the Ambassador's words of thanks
for MOD's assistance in obtaining final approval for the U.S.
Defense Attache to begin his tour of duty in Hanoi, noting that "it
is our policy to set aside the past and look toward the future."

Advocacy for U.S. Company AAE
-----------------------------

6. (SBU) The Ambassador expressed strong support for the Sunnyvale
California-based telecommunications company AAE in its $9.8 million
bid to win a MOD Satellite Communications Equipment tender released
in June 2008 and called the General's attention to an advocacy
letter he had written on behalf of AAE to the Minister of Defense.
He passed on to General Lan the original letter during this meeting.
The Ambassador noted that there have been a number of U.S.
companies in the defense sector that have shown interest in the
Vietnamese defense sector market and that AAE was well positioned to
win the Satellite Communications Equipment Tender based on the
company's technology, price, and proven commitment to the
Vietnamese. (Note: The advocacy request from AAE was vetted and
approved through the U.S. Commercial Service's Advocacy center in
Washington. General Lan was identified by MOD staff as the most
appropriate senior MOD leader to address the issue. End note.)

7. (SBU) General Lan responded that he welcomed AAE's efforts to
develop business in Vietnam, noting that his staff would be pleased
to meet with AAE when they visit Hanoi for technical discussions in
January. The General voiced general willingness to work with U.S.
companies and encouraged the Commercial Counselor at the U.S.
Embassy to meet with the appropriate offices within the MOD,
including the MOD's Office of Economics.


HANOI 00001417 002 OF 002


U.S. participants:

Ambassador Michalak
Commercial Counselor Donald Nay
DATT Maj. Rizner
Ms. Hoa Interpreter

Vietnamese participants:

Lt. General Lan
SRCol. Huy
Col. Vinh
Lt. Tung Interpreter

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