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Cablegate: Vietnam and the Middle East, and Beyond:

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


2001HANOI02817 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTO9412

PAGE 01 HANOI 02817 01 OF 03 290455Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 ACQ-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00 COME-00
CTME-00 INL-00 USNW-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00
EB-00 EXME-00 OIGO-00 E-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 L-00
VCE-00 MOFM-05 MOF-03 AC-01 NEA-00 DCP-01 NSAE-00
NSCE-00 OES-01 OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PC-01 PM-00
PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 SSO-00 SS-00 STR-00
TEST-00 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 SA-00 FMP-00 EPAE-00
PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
SWCI-00 /019W
------------------3691DF 290455Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4519
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ABLAGG//
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002817

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV; NEA/IAI; NEA/ENA; NEA/NGA; SA/PAB

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02817 01 OF 03 290455Z
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ETRD KPAL VM IZ IS PK SY TU AF LY
SUBJECT: VIETNAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST, AND BEYOND:
-- TRANSFORMING TRADITIONAL FRIENDSHIPS

REF: A. HANOI 2139 B. HANOI 2658

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. DESPITE A DESIRE TO PRESERVE
"TRADITIONAL FRIENDSHIPS" IN THE MIDDLE EAST, THE LARGER
THRUST OF THE GVN'S REGIONAL AND GLOBAL FOREIGN POLICY OVER
THE PAST DECADE HAS BEEN TO BROADEN ITS BASE OF DIPLOMATIC
PARTNERS AND TO PUT A GREATER EMPHASIS ON BUSINESS TIES.
FOR EXAMPLE, VIETNAM SUPPORTS PALESTINIAN ASPIRATIONS FOR
STATEHOOD, BUT ALSO MAINTAINS "NORMAL RELATIONS" WITH
ISRAEL, ALBEIT WITHOUT AN EMBASSY THERE. THE GVN HAS NO
DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH THE TALIBAN AND WORRIES ABOUT CIVILIAN
CASUALTIES IN THE CURRENT US-LED MILITARY OPERATIONS. ITS
MAJOR COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP IN THE REGION REMAINS WITH
IRAQ. RELATIONS WITH PAKISTAN ARE GROWING INCREMENTALLY.
END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------
PALESTINE/ISRAEL: WE CAN DEAL WITH BOTH
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) DOAN NGOC BOI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE
MFA'S WEST ASIA AND AFRICA DEPARTMENT, DESCRIBED THE
PALESTINE AUTHORITY AS AN IMPORTANT "TRADITIONAL FRIEND" OF
VIETNAM, WHICH STRONGLY SUPPORTS PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD. IN
HIS VIEW, AN INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN STATE "WOULD SOLVE MANY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02817 01 OF 03 290455Z
PROBLEMS" IN THE AREA. BOI NOTED THAT PRESIDENT ARAFAT
VISITS VIETNAM REGULARLY (REF A) AND WILL PROBABLY CONTINUE
TO DO SO FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.

3. (SBU) BOI SAID THAT, IN LINE WITH VIETNAM'S EFFORTS "TO
BE FRIENDS WITH ALL NATIONS," IT HAD EXPANDED ITS TIES WITH
ISRAEL TO A MORE "NORMAL RELATIONSHIP," ADDING THAT "THERE
IS NO REASON" THAT ECONOMIC TIES COULD NOT INCREASE. THE
MFA'S TU NOTED THAT THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS OFFICIAL VISITS
(BUT NOT VERY HIGH LEVEL) SINCE ISRAEL OPENED ITS EMBASSY IN
HANOI IN 1993, INCLUDING THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE ISRAELI
MFA ASIA AND PACIFIC IN JANUARY 2001, AND A DELEGATION FROM
THE ISRAEL MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION IN APRIL 2001. THE
GVN DEPUTY MINISTER OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENVIRONMENT
VISITED ISRAEL IN 2000. TU CLAIMED THAT VIETNAM'S "NORMAL"
RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL "HAS NOT AFFECTED" ITS FRIENDSHIPS
WITH ARAB STATES, BECAUSE "THEY UNDERSTAND WE SEEK GOOD
RELATIONS WITH ALL COUNTRIES." TU ADDED THAT DESPITE GVN
WISHES TO OPEN AN EMBASSY IN ISRAEL SINCE 1993, THERE ARE
STILL NO CONCRETE PLANS TO DO SO. VIETNAM'S AMBASSADOR TO
CAIRO IS ACCREDITED TO ISRAEL.

4. (SBU) ACCORDING TO ISRAELI EMBASSY SECOND SECRETARY EYAL
BUVILSKI, ISRAEL IS CURRENTLY FOCUSED ON EXPANDING BILATERAL
TRADE WITH VIETNAM, NOW ONLY ABOUT USD 25 MILLION ANNUALLY.
HE SAID THAT WHILE THERE HAS BEEN A GENERAL INCREASE IN
INTEREST FROM ISRAELI BUSINESSMEN, LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS, SUCH
AS WORKING WITH LOCAL BANKS AND OBTAINING VISAS, REMAIN
OBSTACLES. ISRAEL HAS EXPRESSED A HOPE THAT THE GVN SOON
ESTABLISH SOME SORT OF OFFICIAL REPRESENTATION IN ISRAEL,
SUCH AS A TRADE REPRESENTATIVE, TO FACILITATE SUCH TIES.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02817 01 OF 03 290455Z
BUVILSKI NOTED THAT ISRAEL IS ALSO INTERESTED IN EXPANDING
ITS ONGOING AGRICULTURAL ASSISTANCE TO VIETNAM AND IN
PROVIDING TRAINING FOR ADDITIONAL VIETNAMESE STUDENTS IN
ISRAEL.

------------------------------------
AFGHANISTAN: WORRIES ABOUT CIVILIANS
-----------------------------------
5. (SBU) NGUYEN HUY DZUNG, SENIOR EXPERT IN THE MFA'S ASIA
II DEPARTMENT, CHARACTERIZED VIETNAM'S RELATIONSHIP WITH
AFGHANISTAN AS "NONEXISTENT," BOTH POLITICALLY AND
ECONOMICALLY. VIETNAM MAINTAINED AN EMBASSY IN KABUL FROM
1982-1992 BUT THEN CLOSED IT DUE TO THE CIVIL WAR AND
VIETNAM'S OWN DIFFICULT FINANCIAL SITUATION. DZUNG
REAFFIRMED VIETNAM'S OPPOSITION TO "TERRORISM OF ANY KIND"
BUT EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT THE ONGOING US-LED MILITARY
ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN DUE TO THE LIKELY IMPACT ON CIVILIAN
POPULATIONS, A LINE REPEATED IN OFFICIAL MEDIA REPEATEDLY IN
RECENT DAYS.

6. (SBU) THE MFA'S BOI SEPARATELY NOTED THAT THE GVN IS
KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON FIVE AFGHAN NATIONALS APPARENTLY
TEACHING AT AN ARABIC-LANGUAGE SCHOOL LOCATED ON THE LIBYAN
EMBASSY COMPOUND. (NOTE: REF B REPORTED ONLY FOUR AFGHANS
AT THIS SCHOOL WHO WORSHIP AT HANOI'S SOLE MOSQUE.) HE
CLAIMED THAT THREE SHOULD BE LEAVING THE COUNTRY "SOON,"
SINCE THEIR VISAS HAVE EXPIRED.


-----------------------
PAKISTAN: LITTLE STEPS
-----------------------

7. (SBU) DR. FAZAL-UR-RAHMAN KAZI, THE PAKISTAN EMBASSY'S
FIRST SECRETARY, TOLD POLOFF ON OCTOBER 16 THAT PAKISTAN IS
ANXIOUS TO IMPROVE ITS POLITICAL AND COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP
WITH VIETNAM AS PART OF ITS OWN EFFORT "TO BECOME MORE
ENGAGED IN SOUTHEAST ASIA." PAKISTAN ESTABLISHED RELATIONS
WITH VIETNAM IN 1973, BUT CLOSED ITS EMBASSY IN 1985, DUE TO
"FINANCIAL REASONS." DR. FAZI DESCRIBED THIS MOVE AS A
"MISTAKE" THAT WAS NOT RECTIFIED UNTIL OCTOBER 2000.
HOWEVER, VIETNAM STILL DOES NOT HAVE AN EMBASSY IN
ISLAMABAD, ALTHOUGH IT HAS AGREED "IN PRINCIPLE" TO OPEN
ONE, ACCORDING TO DR. KAZI.

8. (SBU) PAKISTANI LEADER GENERAL MUSHARRAF VISITED VIETNAM
FOR THREE DAYS IN MAY 2001, DURING WHICH THE TWO COUNTRIES
SIGNED A TRADE AGREEMENT, A DRAFT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
AGREEMENT, AND AN AGREEMENT TO FORM A JOINT MINISTERIAL
COMMISSION. THE GVN DURING THE VISIT ALSO PLEDGED SUPPORT
FOR PAKISTAN'S GOAL OF BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE ASEAN
REGIONAL FORUM AND THE ASIA-EUROPE FORUM. DEPUTY PRIME
MINISTER NGUYEN CONG TAN HAS NOW POSTPONED HIS VISIT TO
PAKISTAN SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER, CITING THE ONGOING MILITARY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02817 02 OF 03 290455Z
ACTIVITIES IN THE REGION, DR. KAZI ADDED.

9. (SBU) DR. KAZI ADMITTED THAT THE BILATERAL ECONOMIC
RELATIONSHIP IS "LIMITED," WITH BILATERAL TRADE ONLY WORTH
ABOUT USD 25 MILLION IN 2000. PAKISTAN IMPORTED
APPROXIMATELY USD 16 MILLION WORTH OF GOODS FROM VIETNAM,
PRIMARILY TEA, BLACK PEPPER AND FOOTWEAR, WHILE VIETNAM
IMPORTED ABOUT USD 9 MILLION WORTH OF FERTILIZER, YARN,
COTTON, AND OTHER GOODS. BOTH COUNTRIES HAVE PLEDGED TO
INCREASE THE TRADE VOLUME TO USD 100 MILLION, BUT DR. KAZI
SAID THAT THERE ARE NO FIRM TARGETS ON WHEN TO ACHIEVE THIS
GOAL. DR. KAZI ADDED THAT ONE SIGNIFICANT LOGISTICAL
PROBLEM FOR PAKISTANI BUSINESSMEN IS THEY CANNOT OBTAIN
VIETNAMESE VISAS IN PAKISTAN.

10. (SBU) THE MFA'S DZUNG SEPARATELY CONFIRMED THAT VIETNAM
WOULD LIKE TO INCREASE BILATERAL TRADE WITH PAKISTAN,
CLAIMING THAT THIS IS NOW VIETNAM'S "PRIMARY INTEREST" IN
THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP. ACCORDINGLY, VIETNAM IS
"EXPLORING VARIOUS OPPORTUNITIES," HE ADDED WITHOUT OFFERING
ANY SPECIFICS. DZUNG NOTED THAT THE IMPROVING POLITICAL AND
COMMERCIAL TIES WITH PAKISTAN ARE IN LINE WITH THE 9TH PARTY
CONGRESS' POLICY STATEMENT TO INCREASE VIETNAM'S PRESENCE IN
"ALL SOUTH ASIAN COUNTRIES." HE ALSO NOTED THAT VIETNAM
WOULD LIKE TO OPEN AN EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN, BUT ADMITTED HE
NOT KNOW WHEN IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO DO SO. HE AND DR.
KAZI MADE PARALLEL STATEMENTS ABOUT HOW THE BILATERAL
ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP COULD IMPROVE QUICKLY ONCE THE
SITUATION IN THE REGION "STABILIZES."

---------------------
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02817 02 OF 03 290455Z
"TRADITIONAL FRIENDS"
---------------------

11. (SBU) THE MFA'S BOI, DESCRIBED IRAQ (ALONG WITH LIBYA)
AS VIETNAM'S MOST IMPORTANT "TRADITIONAL FRIENDS" IN THE
MIDDLE EAST DURING A MEETING WITH POLOFF ON OCTOBER 12. HE
NOTED IN PARTICULAR THAT IRAQ HAD PROVIDED SIGNIFICANT
ASSISTANCE TO VIETNAM DURING THE WAR WITH THE US.
SEPARATELY, COLONEL TRAN NHUNG, DIRECTOR OF THE PEOPLES'
ARMY NEWSPAPER INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT, CLAIMED THAT
VIETNAM COULD NEVER FORGET IRAQ'S "INVALUABLE SUPPORT"
DURING THAT PERIOD, WHILE ADMITTING THAT VIETNAM STILL
"OWES" IRAQ APPROXIMATELY USD 100 MILLION. BOI NOTED THAT
VIETNAM HAD, HOWEVER, NOT SUPPORTED THE IRAQ'S INVASION OF
KUWAIT. COLONEL NHUNG STATED THAT VIETNAM HAD NONETHELESS
"PROTESTED" UN SANCTIONS BECAUSE THEY "ESSENTIALLY HURT
CIVILIANS."

12. (SBU) BOI STRESSED THAT THE IRAQ-VIETNAM COMMERCIAL
RELATIONSHIP IS "COMPLETELY WITHIN THE UN FRAMEWORK."
VIETNAMESE EXPORTS TO IRAQ IN 2000 WERE WORTH APPROXIMATELY
USD319 MILLION, PRIMARILY RICE, RUBBER, TEXTILES, AND
GARMENTS. VIETNAM IMPORTS MAINLY OIL FROM IRAQ, PARTLY FOR
RE-SALE ON THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET. BUT BOI PREDICTED
THAT VIETNAM'S TRADE WITH IRAQ WOULD DECLINE AS IRAQ
INCREASINGLY LOOKS TOWARD MORE TRADE WITH SYRIA, TUNISIA,
AND TURKEY.

13. (SBU) ACCORDING TO SENIOR EXPERT TRAN VIET TU OF THE
MFA'S WEST ASIA DEPARTMENT, ABOUT 2,000 VIETNAMESE NATIONALS
ARE CURRENTLY WORKING IN LIBYA, ANOTHER "TRADITIONAL
FRIEND." "A FEW" OTHERS ARE WORKING IN LEBANON AND THE
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE), HE ADDED. IN LIBYA, MOST ARE IN
THE CONSTRUCTION FIELD, WORKING FOR SOUTH KOREAN
CONTRACTORS. TU STATED THAT THE WORKERS DO NOT APPEAR TO BE
IN ANY DANGER, BUT IF THE SITUATION DETERIORATED, VIETNAM
WOULD TAKE ACTION TO REPATRIATE THEM. HE NOTED THAT VIETNAM
HAD SUCCESSFULLY REPATRIATED 16,000 WORKERS FROM IRAQ DURING
THE GULF WAR; BRINGING BACK THOSE IN LIBYA, LEBANON, AND THE
UAE "WOULD NOT PRESENT A PROBLEM" SHOULD IT BE NECESSARY TO
DO SO.

14. (SBU) COMMENT: MUCH AS VIETNAM WOULD LIKE TO ENHANCE
ECONOMIC RELATIONS WITH NEWER PARTNERS AS WELL AS
"TRADITIONAL" FRIENDS IN AND NEAR THE MIDDLE EAST, DISTANCE,
BUREAUCRATIC OBSTACLES AND WEAK MARKETS WILL REMAIN
UNAVOIDABLE CONSTRAINTS. VIETNAM'S OWN FINANCIAL
LIMITATIONS HAMPER ITS ABILITY TO OPEN NEW DIPLOMATIC
MISSIONS, A FURTHER DISINCENTIVE FOR THE KINDS OF
IMPROVEMENTS IN BILATERAL AND REGIONAL RELATIONS IT SEEKS.
PORTER

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02817 03 OF 03 290455Z

UNCLASSIFIED

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