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Cablegate: Das Boyce Meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung On Arf and Asean Issues

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


2001HANOI00539 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1311

PAGE 01 HANOI 00539 01 OF 03 080245Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DS-00 FBIE-00
UTED-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 VCE-00 NSAE-00 TEST-00
DSCC-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /000W
------------------CEFA3E 080246Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2182
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 000539

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP, EAP/EX

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL VM ASEAN ARF
SUBJECT: DAS BOYCE MEETING WITH VICE FOREIGN MINISTER LE CONG PHUNG ON ARF AND ASEAN ISSUES

1. EAP DAS BOYCE MET FEBRUARY 28 WITH LE CONG PHUNG, VICE
FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR ASEAN AFFAIRS, TO DISCUSS A
RANGE OF ISSUES CONCERNING ASEAN AND THE ASEAN REGIONAL
FORUM (ARF). MFA ASEAN DEPARTMENT DEPUTY DIRECTORS PHAM HUU
CHI AND TRAN NGOC AN, AND AMERICAS DEPARTMENT DEPUTY DOAN
XUAN HUNG, SAT IN ON THE VIETNAMESE SIDE. EAP/RSP DIRECTOR
JUDITH STROTZ AND EAP/RSP OFFICER DEAN YAP ACCOMPANIED
BOYCE.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 00539 01 OF 03 080245Z

INTERSESSIONAL SUPPORT GROUP PROCESS
------------------------------------

2. DAS BOYCE SAID THAT IN THE U.S. VIEW THE ISG IS THE
HEART OF THE ARF, WHERE THE INVISIBLE WORK GETS DONE THAT
ENABLES VISIBLE PROGRESS. THE U.S. IS CONCERNED OVER LACK
OF PROGRESS AT THE SEOUL ISG, ALONG WITH OTHER ARF MEMBERS,
AND PROPOSES THE FOLLOWING TO HELP PROMOTE ISG
EFFECTIVENESS:

-- MOVEMENT TO TOPIC-BASED DISCUSSIONS ON REGIONAL
SECURITY, RATHER THAN SET PIECES FROM THE VARIOUS
DELEGATIONS. OTHER ARF MEMBERS HAVE RESPONDED FAVORABLY TO
THIS IDEA, AND IT WORKED WELL IN SINGAPORE. THE U.S HOPES
THE SEOUL ISG CAN BE ARRANGED THIS WAY.

-- CONTINUATION AT THE KL ISG OF THE VOLUNTARY
BRIEFINGS HELD IN SEOUL. THE U.S. WOULD LIKE TO BRIEF THE
ARF ON CINCPAC ADMIRAL BLAIR'S PROPOSAL FOR ENHANCED
REGIONAL COOPERATION.

-- INCREASED TIME FOR THE DEFENSE OFFICIALS' MEETING.

-- BEEFING UP SUBSTANTIVE EXPERTISE AT THE EXPERTS'
GROUP MEETING (EGM) FOLLOWING THE KL ISG, RATHER THAN
LETTING THIS FORUM BECOME BOGGED DOWN BY GENERALISTS.

3. PHUNG DEFENDED THE SEOUL ISG AND SAID VIETNAM IS TRYING
ITS BEST AS CHAIR TO MOVE THE ARF PROCESS FORWARD. HE
RESISTED THE SUGGESTION OF TOPIC-BASED SECURITY DISCUSSIONS,
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 00539 01 OF 03 080245Z
SAYING IT BREAKS WITH LONG-HELD PRECEDENT AND IS TOO CHAOTIC
IN A FORUM WITH 23 MEMBERS. A SET AGENDA PROVIDES BETTER
STRUCTURE FOR DISCUSSIONS. PHUNG WELCOMED THE IDEA OF
CONTINUED VOLUNTARY BRIEFINGS, HOWEVER, AND SAID VIETNAM
WILL NOTIFY ASEAN COUNTERPARTS TO LOOK FOR THE U.S.
CONTRIBUTION, AND TO PREPARE ANY BRIEFINGS THEY MAY WANT TO
PRESENT. THE ONLY STIPULATION IS THAT SUCH BRIEFINGS MUST
BE RELEVANT TO THE ISG. PHUNG ALSO UNDERTOOK TO INSTRUCT
EGM PARTICIPANTS TO FOCUS MORE ON CONCRETE ISSUES.

ARF WORKING PAPERS
------------------

4. PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY PRINCIPLES: DAS BOYCE EXPRESSED
THE U.S. VIEW THAT FORWARD MOVEMENT ON THE DRAFT ARF WORKING
PAPERS IS A KEY TO PROGRESS IN THE ARF. THE U.S. IS WILLING
TO SEE THE PAPER ON PD PRINCIPLES PASSED AS IS, AS A
"SNAPSHOT" OF CURRENT THINKING ON THE ISSUE. PHUNG
RESPONDED THAT VIETNAM HAS CIRCULATED THE PAPER, BUT
REACTIONS ARE NOT ALL YET IN. HE DID REMARK THAT ASEAN IS
"SERIOUSLY STUDYING" THIS PAPER, AND HOPES TO HAVE CONSENSUS
BY KL.

5. ROLE OF THE ARF CHAIR: BOYCE SAID THE U.S. BELIEVES
THE CHAIR NEEDS TO HAVE AN "EARLY WARNING" FUNCTION, THE
ABILITY TO FLAG ISSUES WHICH NEED ATTENTION, AND AUTHORITY
TO CONVENE MEETINGS IF NECESSARY AND IF GROUP CONSENSUS
EXISTS. PHUNG WAS NON-COMMITTAL, NOTING ONLY THAT THE
DRAFT PAPER WILL BE ON THE AGENDA AT THE KL ISG, AND
DISCUSSION SHOULD BE ELEVATED TO THE SOM OR MINISTERIAL
LEVEL IF NECESSARY.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 00539 01 OF 03 080245Z

6. PHUNG EXPRESSED VIETNAM'S GREAT APPRECIATION FOR RECENT
INVITATIONS TO VIETNAM AS THE ARF CHAIR TO ATTEND A PACOM
LEGAL CONFERENCE AND UNDERTAKE REGIONAL FAMILIARIZATION
TRAVEL (THE LATTER INVITATION INCLUDES BRUNEI, AS FUTURE ARF
CHAIR). PHUNG SAID THE PACOM INVITATION WENT TO THE
MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE FOR CONSIDERATION; IT WAS
LIKELY THE MND WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO RESPOND IN TIME TO
ACCEPT THE INVITATION. VIETNAM WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND
IN ANY EVENT IN THE CAPACITY OF ARF CHAIR, AS THERE WAS NO
PRECEDENT. THE REGIONAL TRAVEL INVITATION WILL BE AN ISSUE
OF DISCUSSION AT THE MARCH ASEAN SOM IN HO CHI MINH CITY,
ALTHOUGH PHUNG NOTED THAT VIETNAM'S REMAINING TIME AS ARF
CHAIR IS SHORT.

7. EXPERTS AND EMINENT PERSONS REGISTER: DAS BOYCE
EXPRESSED THE U.S. VIEW THAT THE EEP REGISTER SHOULD
REPRESENT A PROBLEM-SOLVING GROUP, RATHER THAN JUST A
RESEARCH BODY. HAVING THE SCOPE TO OFFER OPINIONS WOULD
ATTRACT MORE TRUE EXPERTISE TO THE REGISTER, WHICH COULD BE
A VALUABLE RESOURCE -- SUBJECT ALWAYS TO CONSENSUS -- TO AN
EXPANDED ARF CHAIR.

8. PHUNG SAID THIS ISSUE NEEDS MORE DISCUSSION AMONGST
ASEAN MEMBERS. IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE FOR THE EEP GROUP TO
PERFORM IN-DEPTH STUDIES AND OFFER NON-BINDING PROFESSIONAL
ADVICE, ALTHOUGH ANY ACTIVITIES WOULD HAVE TO OBSERVE BASIC
ASEAN PRINCIPLES OF RESPECT FOR SOVEREIGNTY AND NON-
INTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL AFFAIRS. THE DRAFT PAPER ALSO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 00539 02 OF 03 080246Z
NEEDS TO QUANTIFY FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ARF MEMBERS.
VIETNAM WOULD LIKE THIS PAPER DISCUSSED AT THE APRIL ASEAN
FOREIGN MINISTERS' RETREAT.

OTHER ARF ISSUES
----------------

9. PHUNG COMMNENTED THAT VIETNAM IS WORKING NOW ON THE
DRAFT CHAIR'S STATEMENT FOR THE JULY MINISTERIAL, AND WILL
SEND IT OUT SOON FOR COMMENTS. VIETNAM PARTICULARLY WANTS
SUGGESTIONS FROM THE MAJOR ARF PARTNERS, INCLUDING THE U.S.,
FOR THE MINISTERIAL AND BEYOND.

10. VIETNAM HAS HEARD THE CRITICISM, PHUNG CONTINUED, THAT
THE ARF IS SLOWING UNDER ITS CHAIRMANSHIP. ALL ASEAN
MEMBERS, VIETNAM INCLUDED, AGREE THAT THE ARF IS A SLOW-
MOVING FORUM. VIETNAM VERY MUCH WANTS TO LEAVE ITS MARK AS
ARF CHAIR, BUT IS CONSTRAINED IN PUSHING FORWARD BY THE
ASEAN TRADITION OF WAITING FOR NEW MEMBERS AND THOSE
UNPREPARED FOR NEXT STEPS. FOR THIS REASON, ALTHOUGH
VIETNAM IS ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING PREPARATIONS FOR THE NEXT
STAGE, CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES (CBMS) WILL REMAIN THE
ARF'S MAIN THRUST FOR THE TIME BEING.

11. IN THIS VEIN, PHUNG BROUGHT UP THE ECONOMIC SECURITY
SEMINAR INITIATIVE, ON WHICH A PAPER CIRCULATED AT THE SEOUL
ISG. VIETNAM WANTS A CO-SPONSOR FOR THIS CBM, AND SOLICITS
U.S. SUPPORT. THE MARCH SOM WILL DISCUSS THE TOPIC, AND
VIETNAM WOULD TENTATIVELY LIKE TO SEE THE SEMINAR HAPPEN AT
THE END OF 2001. DAS BOYCE PROMISED U.S. CONSIDERATION OF
THE IDEA.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 00539 02 OF 03 080246Z

12. BOYCE ASKED FOR PHUNG'S VIEWS ON DISCUSSIONS OVER THE
SOUTH CHINA SEA CODE OF CONDUCT, AS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE
ARF COULD WORK. PHUNG SAID ONLY THAT "DIFFERENCES" REMAIN
AMONGST THE ASEAN MEMBERS, AND THE GROUP NEEDS TIME TO REACH
CONSENSUS. OF POSSIBLE NOTE, PHUNG SAID CHINA HAD PROPOSED
A CHINA-VIETNAM-MALAYSIA MEETING TO DISCUSS OUTSTANDING
ISSUES, BUT ASEAN BELIEVES INTERNAL GROUP CONSENSUS IS
NECESSARY FIRST BEFORE ENGAGING WITH CHINA ON ANY OTHER
BASIS.

ASEAN POST-MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
---------------------------------

13. PHUNG SAID VIETNAM IS ALSO MAKING PREPARATIONS FOR THE
ASEAN PMC, AND IS SOLICITING THE VIEWS OF THE DIALOGUE
PARTNERS ON HOW TO MANAGE THE OVERLAP BETWEEN THE THE ASEAN
MINISTERS' MEETING, THE ARF, THE PMC, AND APEC. QUNG
EMPHASIZED THAT THE VIEWS OF MAJOR PARTNERS SUCH AS THE U.S.
ARE PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT. VIETNAM'S CURRENT VIEW IS THAT
THE PMC SHOULD FOCUS ON DEVELOPMENT, LEAVING POLITICAL AND
SECURITY ISSUES TO THE ARF.

14. BOYCE EXPRESSED U.S. RESERVATIONS OVER A CONTINUED
DEVELOPMENT FOCUS IN THE PMC, AS THE LEVEL OF DETAIL
ENTAILED IS NOT WELL SUITED TO DISCUSSION AT THE MINISTERIAL
LEVEL AND OTHER MORE APPROPRIATE FORA ALREADY EXIST. BOYCE
ALSO RAISED CONTINUED LEGAL CONSTRAINTS ON U.S. DEVELOPMENT
COOPERATION WITH ASEAN, BECAUSE OF OUR POLICY CONCERNS OVER
BURMA, AND SUGGESTED TOO HARD A FOCUS ON THIS TOPIC COULD
AFFECT THE PRODUCTIVITY OF THE MEETING. INSTEAD, THE U.S.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 00539 02 OF 03 080246Z
BELIEVES THE PMC MAY BE A USEFUL VENUE FOR DISCUSSION OF
TRANSNATIONAL AND EXTRA-REGIONAL ISSUES.

15. PHUNG UNDERTOOK TO PASS THESE VIEWS ON, AND COMMENTED
THAT DISCUSSION OF EXTERNAL VIEWS COULD BE USEFUL. IN THE
10-PLUS-ONE MEETING IN PARTICULAR, HOWEVER, TIME IS LIMITED,
AND NEEDS TO BE DEVOTED TO BILATERAL U.S.-ASEAN TIES.
OVERALL, VIETNAM AND MOST OTHER ASEAN MEMBERS CONTINUE TO
THINK DEVELOPMENT IS A GOOD TOPIC FOR THE PMC. PRESSED FOR
FURTHER DETAIL ON DEVELOPMENT ISSUES VIETNAM PROPOSES FOR
DISCUSSION, PHUNG OUTLINED THE FOLLOWING:

-- OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES AS ASEAN FACES
GLOBALIZATION, AND HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CHOICES.

-- NARROWING THE DEVELOPMENT GAP BETWEEN THE ASEAN OLD-
TIMERS AND NEW-COMERS, AND BETWEEN ASEAN AND OTHER REGIONS.

-- HOW TO ATTRACT EXPANDED OUTSIDE INVESTMENT AND
COOPERATION, BOTH BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL, INCLUDING
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER.


PHUNG COMMENTED THAT THE POINT OF THESE DISCUSSIONS WOULD
NOT BE TO REQUEST FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE SO MUCH AS TO SOLICIT
IDEAS FOR SOLVING PROBLEMS.

16. DAS BOYCE DID NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO CLEAR THIS
MESSAGE BEFORE DEPARTING POST.

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 00539 03 OF 03 080246Z
HARTER

UNCLASSIFIED

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