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Cablegate: Burma and Vietnam: Trying to Improve Relations

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

200948Z May 02

2002HANOI01279 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1257

PAGE 01 HANOI 01279 01 OF 02 200954Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 A-00 ACQ-00 CA-01 CCO-00
CEA-01 CG-00 CIAE-00 COME-00 CTME-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00
DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 EXME-00 E-00 FAAE-00
FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00 FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00
INSE-00 ITC-01 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 MOFM-05 MOF-01
M-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NRCE-00 NSAE-00 OCS-03 OES-01
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SCT-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00
USIE-00 USSS-00 SA-00 ASDS-01 EPAE-00 ECA-00 PMB-00
DSCC-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /022W
------------------B0DCBD 200955Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6518
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY RANGOON
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ABLAGG//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001279

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01279 01 OF 02 200954Z
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER PGOV ETRD BM VM ASEAN CTERR
SUBJECT: BURMA AND VIETNAM: TRYING TO IMPROVE RELATIONS


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. THE VISIT BY PRESIDENT TRAN DUC LUONG
TO BURMA UNDERSCORED A SHARED DETERMINATION TO ADVANCE THE
MODEST TIES BETWEEN THESE TWO FELLOW ASEAN STATES. A MAJOR
FOCUS WAS ON THE STILL LIMITED ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP;
BILATERAL TRADE IS ONLY ABOUT USD 10 MILLION ANNUALLY.
NARCOTICS WERE APPARENTLY NOT ON THE AGENDA, BUT THE TWO
SIDES AFFIRMED THEIR SUPPORT FOR INCREASED EFFORTS TO
COUNTER INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, WHILE CAVEATING THAT SUCH
EFFORTS SHOULD NOT COMPROMISE NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) PRESIDENT TRAN DUC LUONG VISITED BURMA FROM MAY 5-8
AT THE INVITATION OF SENIOR GENERAL THAN SHWE, CHAIRMAN OF
BURMA'S STATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL (SPDC). HIS
DELEGATION INCLUDED FOREIGN MINISTER NGUYEN DY NIEN,
MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT LE HUY NGO,
AND THE DEPUTY MINISTERS OF DEFENSE, PLANNING AND
INVESTMENT, AND TRADE.

---------------------
A "LANDMARK," SORT OF
---------------------

. (SBU) MFA SENIOR ASIA II EXPERT PHAM NGO THUAN WHO
ACCOMPANIED THE DELEGATION, DESCRIBED THE VISIT AS A
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01279 01 OF 02 200954Z
"LANDMARK," NOTING THIS WAS THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL VISIT
FROM VIETNAM SINCE HO CHI MINH VISITED BURMA IN 1958. ONE
BURMA EMBOFF NOTED THAT RANGOON HAD PUSHED FOR THE VISIT
BECAUSE IT WAS THE ONLY ASEAN COUNTRY THAT LUONG HAD YET TO
VISIT. ACCORDING TO VU QUANG THIEN, SENIOR RESEARCHER AT
THE SOUTH EAST ASIA STUDIES CENTER, THE POLITICAL
RELATIONSHIP WITH BURMA IS "LONG AND ENDURING," WITH THE
CONSULAR RELATIONSHIP DATING BACK TO 1957 AND AMBASSADORIAL
TIES GOING BACK TO 1975.

4. (U) ANOTHER BURMA EMBOFF NOTED THAT THE TRADE VOLUME,
WHILE STILL "NEGLIGIBLE" AT USD 10 MILLION LAST YEAR, COULD
"EASILY INCREASE" TO USD 100 MILLION "WITHIN TWO TO THREE
YEARS," ESPECIALLY IF SOME JOINT VENTURES DISCUSSED DURING
THE VISIT WORK OUT. THESE INCLUDED OIL EXPLORATION, GEM
MARKETING, AND RICE MARKETING. HE INDICATED THAT IN THE
NEAR TERM, THE TWO SIDES WILL TRY TO INCREASE BARTER TRADE,
SINCE RAISING CAPITAL IS VERY DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY ON THE
BURMESE SIDE. VIETNAMESE EXPORTS NOW INCLUDE BUILDING
MATERIALS, CERAMIC TILE, AND COMMODITIES SUCH AS PLASTICS,
INSTANT NOODLES, AND SOAP. THE EMBOFF PREDICTED THAT
VIETNAMESE CONSUMER GOODS WOULD BE WELL RECEIVED IN BURMA
SINCE THEY WOULD BE CHEAPER THAN THOSE PRODUCED IN THAILAND
AND INDIA OR EVEN, IN MANY CASES, IN CHINA. BURMESE EXPORTS
ARE LIKELY TO REMAIN LIMITED TO TIMBER AND SOME AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCTS. CURRENTLY, TRADE RUNS HEAVILY IN VIETNAM'S FAVOR,
WITH ABOUT 80 PERCENT OF THE VALUE OF TWO-WAY TRADE
CONSISTING OF VIETNAM'S EXPORTS TO BURMA, ACCORDING TO
EMBOFF.

5. (U) THE TWO SIDES SIGNED AN MOU TO FORM A "JOINT
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01279 01 OF 02 200954Z
ECONOMIC WORKING GROUP" TO PUSH BILATERAL TRADE. THE FIRST
MEETING IS SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE IN HANOI THIS JULY. THIS
GROUP WILL BE ORGANIZED THROUGH THE RESPECTIVE MINISTRIES OF
TRADE. THE MFA'S THUAN NOTED THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE
ECONOMIC WORKING GROUP IS "AN IMPORTANT STEP" TO IMPROVING
THE OVERALL RELATIONSHIP.

---------------------------------------------
NO CONNECTION WITH AUNG SAN SUU KYI'S RELEASE
---------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) DURING THE VISIT, AUNG SAN SUU KYI WAS RELEASED
FROM HOUSE ARREST. BOTH THE MFAS THUAN AND THE BURMA
EMBOFF NOTED THAT THE SIMULANEOUS RELEASE OF AUNG SAN SUU
KYI WAS ONLY A COINCIDENCE; NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN ONGOING
"FOR MONTHS." ACCORDING TO THUAN, LUONG DID NOT COMMENT ON
HER RELEASE DURING ANY OF HIS TALKS WITH THE BURMESE
LEADERSHIP, NOR WAS THE SUBJECT RAISED BY HIS INTERLOCUTORS.
THUAN

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