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Cablegate: Codel Hollings' Meetings with Vietnamese Officials

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


2001HANOI02109 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ8295

PAGE 01 HANOI 02109 01 OF 02 280908Z
ACTION H-01

INFO LOG-00 DS-00 EAP-00 UTED-00 TEDE-00 SS-00 TEST-00
DSCC-00 SAS-00 /001W
------------------178C56 280908Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3782
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002109

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL AMGT VM
SUBJECT: CODEL HOLLINGS' MEETINGS WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. SENATOR ERNEST HOLLINGS (D-SC) LED A
DELEGATION TO HANOI AUGUST 17-19, INCLUDING MRS. HOLLINGS;
LILA HELM, STAFF DIRECTOR, APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON
STATE, COMMERCE AND THE JUDICIARY; BETTY PITTERMAN,
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT; AND US ARMY ESCORT OFFICER COL. TIM
PETERSON. IN MEETINGS WITH THE FOREIGN MINISTRY (MFA) AND
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NA), THE CODEL WAS ABLE TO EXPRESS
SUPPORT FOR FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS IN THE ALREADY GOOD
BILATERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE US AND VIETNAM, ASSURE THE
VIETNAMESE THAT THE U.S. CONGRESS WOULD RATIFY THE BILATERAL
TRADE AGREEMENT (BTA) SOON, AND REQUEST ASSISTANCE IN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02109 01 OF 02 280908Z
SEEKING A SITE FOR A NEW U.S. CHANCERY. THE CODEL ALSO MET
WITH THE EMBASSY COUNTRY TEAM, AND ATTENDED A DINNER IN ITS
HONOR HOSTED BY THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. END
SUMMARY.

FOREIGN MINISTRY
----------------

2. (SBU) THE DELEGATION MET ON AUGUST 17 WITH VICE FOREIGN
MINISTER NGUYEN VAN NGANH. (NOTE: SENIOR VFM BINH WHO
COVERS AMERICAS ISSUES AND WHO NORMALLY MEETS AMERICAN VIPS
WAS TRAVELLING IN CUBA. MOST OTHER SENIOR LEADERS WERE
INVOLVED WITH THE ONGOING CENTRAL COMMITTEE PLENUM SESSIONS.
END NOTE) ALSO PARTICIPATING WERE ASSISTANT FOREIGN
MINISTER LE VAN BANG (FORMER VIETNAMESE AMBASSADOR TO
WASHINGTON), AMERICAS DESK DEPUTY DIRECTOR DOAN XUAN HUNG,
AMERICAS DESK SENIOR EXPERT PHAM HOANG KIM, CHARGE
D'AFFAIRES HARTER, POL/C BELLARD, AND EMBASSY INTERPRETER
THANH VUONG.

3. (SBU) VFM NGANH DESCRIBED VIETNAM'S POLICY OF ECONOMIC
RENOVATION ("DOI MOI") SINCE 1986 AND ITS CONSISTENT FOREIGN
POLICY IN SUPPORT OF INDEPENDENCE, SOVEREIGNTY,
DIVERSIFICATION, MULTI-FACETIZATION, AND INTEGRATION INTO
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. HE CONFIRMED THE IMPORTANCE OF
GOOD RELATIONS WITH THE US BASED ALSO ON EQUALITY AND MUTUAL
BENEFIT, WHICH CONTRIBUTES TO PEACE AND STABILITY IN THE
REGION AND WORLD. HE WELCOMED RECENT POSITIVE STEPS IN
CONGRESS ON THE BTA AS WELL AS THE JACKSON-VANICK WAIVER,
DESPITE SOME PROPOSED ANTI-VIETNAM BILLS AND DRAFT
RESOLUTIONS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WHICH WERE NOT
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02109 01 OF 02 280908Z
IN THE INTEREST OF EITHER COUNTRY AND WHICH HAD UPSET MANY
VIETNAMESE. HE DESCRIBED PREPARATIONS ON THE VIETNAMESE
SIDE FOR BTA RATIFICATION. THE TRADE MINISTER HAD ALREADY
SUBMITTED A REPORT ON THE BTA TO THE NA, WHILE THE PRIME
MINISTER HAD SUBMITTED IT TO THE STATE PRESIDENT FOR
CONSIDERATION. THE STATE PRESIDENT IS EXPECTED FORMALLY TO
REQUEST THE NA TO RATIFY. HE THANKED SENATOR HOLLINGS FOR
HIS GREAT CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPRESSED A HOPE FOR EARLY
RATIFICATION. HE ADDED THAT THE SENATOR'S VISIT WOULD ADD
TO A CLEARER UNDERSTANDING IN THE CONGRESS OF THE POSITIVE
CHANGES AND REALITIES IN VIETNAM TODAY.

4. (SBU) SENATOR HOLLINGS TOLD THE VFM THAT HE EXPECTED
FAVORABLE VOTES ON THE BTA BY BOTH THE SENATE AND HOUSE
SHORTLY AFTER LABOR DAY, WITH RATIFICATION COMPLETED BY THE
END OF NOVEMBER. HE EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE THAT RATIFICATION
WOULD HELP AMERICAN INVESTORS UNDERSTAND BETTER THE POLICY
OF FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN OUR COUNTRIES AND WOULD LED TO MORE US
INVESTMENT HERE. HE WELCOMED VIETNAMESE INVESTORS TO COME
TO SOUTH CAROLINA.

5. (U) SENATOR HOLLINGS SAID THAT ONE OF HIS PRIMARY
REASONS FOR COMING TO HANOI WAS TO LOOK AT THE NEED FOR NEW
FACILITIES FOR THE US EMBASSY. VFM NGANH PROMISED THAT THE
MFA WOULD COORDINATE WITH RELEVANT AUTHORITIES IN SEEKING A
SUITABLE PLACE, NOTING THAT THE VIETNAMESE SIDE HAD OFFERED
SEVERAL SITES TO WHICH THE US HAD NOT AGREED. HE REQUESTED
SIMILAR COOPERATION FROM THE US IN FINDING A NEW EMBASSY
SITE IN WASHINGTON FOR VIETNAM. SENATOR HOLLINGS SAID THAT
HE HOPED THAT THE TWO SIDES COULD MOVE FORWARD ON THE SITE
ISSUE, AND NOTED THAT SECRETARY POWELL HAD BEEN IMPRESSED BY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02109 01 OF 02 280908Z
HANOI DURING HIS VISIT IN JULY.

6. (U) SENATOR HOLLINGS ALSO POINTED TO HIS EXPECTED
ATTENDANCE AT A CATHOLIC MASS ON AUGUST 18 AS EVIDENCE OF
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN VIETNAM.

7. (U) AFM BANG SAID THAT RECENT VISITS BY SECRETARY POWELL
AND A/S CRANER HAD HELPED FURTHER IMPROVE BILATERAL
RELATIONS, AND THAT VIETNAM WANTED MORE HIGH-RANKING
VISITORS FROM THE US. HE ADDED THAT FM NGUYEN DY NIEN WOULD
VISIT WASHINGTON IN SEPTEMBER.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
-----------------

8. (U) ON AUGUST 18, THE DELEGATION MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, INCLUDING DO VAN TAI, CHAIRMAN OF THE
FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE; VU MINH MAO, VICE CHAIRMAN OF
THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENVIRONMENT;
NGUYEN VAN PHUC, DIRECTOR OF THE ECONOMIC AND BUDGETARY
DEPARTMENT; TRINH DINH SON, STAFF MEMBER OF THE FOREIGN
RELATIONS COMMITTEE; AND DOAN XUAN HUNG OF THE MFA'S
AMERICAS DESK. CHAIRMAN TAI ALSO HOSTED A LUNCH IN HONOR OF
SENATOR AND MRS. HOLLINGS.

9. (U) CHAIRMAN TAI HIGHLIGHTED THE IMPORTANCE OF VISITS,
ESPECIALLY BY MEMBERS OF THE U.S. SENATE AND HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, IN FURTHER DEVELOPING RELATIONS BETWEEN THE
TWO COUNTRIES. NOTING THAT IT WAS HIS FIRST VISIT TO
HANOI, SENATOR HOLLINGS DESCRIBED HIS AMAZEMENT AT THE LEVEL
OF ACTIVITY AND DYNAMISM. HE CITED HIS DISCUSSIONS ON
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02109 02 OF 02 280908Z
AUGUST 17 WITH MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
AND SAID HE LOOKED FORWARD TO INCREASED US INVESTMENT IN
VIETNAM. HE EXPECTED A FAVORABLE VOTE ON BTA BY THE HOUSE
SHORTLY AFTER LABOR DAY, WITH A FAVORABLE VOTE IN THE SENATE
IN SEPTEMBER OR EARLY OCTOBER. HE EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE THAT
RATIFICATION WOULD BE A SIGNAL OF THE FRIENDSHIP AND STRONG
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUR TWO NATIONS, NOTING IN PARTICULAR
GOOD COOPERATION ON HEALTH ISSUES, DRUGS, AND LAW
ENFORCEMENT.

10. (SBU) SENATOR HOLLINGS REQUESTED HELP FROM THE NA IN
FINDING A NEW EMBASSY SITE IN HANOI. CHAIRMAN TAI PROMISED
TO TELL THE GOVERNMENT OF THIS REQUEST. HE DISCUSSED THE
DEVELOPMENT OF BILATERAL RELATIONS SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT
OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS AND SOUGHT FURTHER ECONOMIC,
POLITICAL, AND TRADE RELATIONS. HE EXPRESSED APPRECIATION
FOR THE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS PROCESS BY BOTH HOUSES OF
CONGRESS AS WELL AS BY THE US EMBASSY AND AMBASSADOR
PETERSON AND CHARGE HARTER. HE ASKED FOR SENATOR HOLLINGS'
SUPPORT FOR BTA RATIFICATION IN THE SENATE, NOTING THAT
IMPROVEMENT IN TRADE WOULD SPARK FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS IN
OTHER ASPECTS OF THE RELATIONSHIP. EARLY RATIFICATION WOULD
BE A GOOD SIGN OF US WILLINGNESS TO ADVANCE THE
RELATIONSHIP, HE ADDED. HE PLEDGED THAT VIETNAM WAS
PREPARED TO RATIFY THE BTA AFTER THE US CONGRESS HAD DONE
SO. HE SAID THAT THE PRIME MINISTER HAD SUBMITTED THE BTA
TO THE STATE PRESIDENT, WHILE RELEVANT ECONOMIC AGENCIES
WERE ALREADY IN THE PROCESS OF PREPARING TO IMPLEMENT ITS
TERMS. HE ASKED FOR THE SENATOR'S SUPPORT FOR ASSISTANCE ON
THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BTA, SUCH AS
WITH THE JOINT COMMITTEE.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02109 02 OF 02 280908Z

11. (SBU) SENATOR HOLLINGS PROMISED FULL COOPERATION ON BTA
RATIFICATION, PREDICTING NO PROBLEMS IN EITHER THE SENATE
FINANCE OR COMMERCE COMMITTEES. HE SAID THAT THERE WOULD BE
NO AMENDMENTS ON THE SENATE SIDE, ALTHOUGH THERE APPEAR TO
BE SOME EFFORT TO ATTACH SOME ON THE HOUSE SIDE REGARDING
FREEDOM OF RELIGION. HE PROMISED TO REPORT TO THEM THAT
VIETNAM DOES HAVE FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SINCE HE WOULD BE
ABLE TO ATTEND A CATHOLIC MASS LATER THAT DAY IN HANOI.

12. (SBU) CHAIRMAN TAI EXPRESSED A HOPE FOR STRONGER LINKS
BETWEEN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND CONGRESS, AS WELL AS FOR
FURTHER SHARING OF EXPERIENCES WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
LEGAL SYSTEM. HE NOTED FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS ON THE NUMBER
OF TRIPS TO THE US BY NA MEMBERS, BUT WELCOMED US
CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATIONS TO VISIT VIETNAM.

13. (U) CODEL HOLLINGS DID NOT HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
CLEAR THIS CABLE BEFORE DEPARTURE. HARTER

UNCLASSIFIED

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