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Cablegate: Nong Duc Manh Visits Russia and Belarus,

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


2002HANOI02622 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ7917

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER ETRD EAID ECON BO RS VM
SUBJECT: NONG DUC MANH VISITS RUSSIA AND BELARUS,
-- REAFFIRMS PERSONAL AND BILATERAL TIES

REF: HANOI 2493

1. (U) SUMMARY. NONG DUC MANH, GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE
COMMUNIST PARTY OF VIETNAM (CPV), VISITED RUSSIA OCTOBER 9-
13 AND BELARUS OCTOBER 13-15. ALL SIDES HAVE DESCRIBED THE
CAREFULLY SCRIPTED VISITS AS "SUCCESSFUL." MANH'S FOCUS WAS
ON IMPROVING TRADE AND REAFFIRMING HIS "STRONG PERSONAL
RELATIONS." RUSSIA DOES NOT APPEAR ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT A
FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH VIETNAM; BELARUS DOES, HOWEVER.
OTHER TOPICS RAISED INCLUDED CAM RANH BAY (AT LEAST
INFORMALLY); INCREASING COOPERATION IN SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE; THE OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITY;
AND TERRORISM. A SEPARATE GVN MILITARY DELEGATION
DISCUSSED SEARCH-AND-RESCUE COOPERATION WITH RUSSIAN
COUNTERPARTS, WHILE ANOTHER MILITARY DELEGATION VISITED
BELARUS JUST AFTER MANH DEPARTED. REFTEL REPORTED ON MANH'S
VISIT TO JAPAN, WHICH TOOK PLACE JUST PRIOR TO HIS VISITS TO
RUSSIA AND BELARUS. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) THIS WAS MANH'S FIRST VISIT TO RUSSIA AND BELARUS
SINCE BECOMING GENERAL SECRETARY IN APRIL 2001, ALTHOUGH HE
HAD BEEN TO BOTH PREVIOUSLY AS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHAIRMAN.
HIS HOSTS, PRESIDENTS PUTIN AND LUKASHENKO, HAD EACH VISITED
VIETNAM WITHIN THE PAST TWO YEARS. PRIME MINISTER PHAN VAN
KHAI VISITED THE TWO COUNTRIES IN SEPTEMBER 2000. OFFICIALS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02622 01 OF 04 301009Z
WHO ACCOMPANIED MANH ON THIS TRIP INCLUDED DEPUTY PRIME
MINISTER VU KHOAN, FOREIGN MINISTER NGUYEN DY NIEN, SEVERAL
HIGH RANKING CPV OFFICIALS, MINISTER OF PLANNING AND
INVESTMENT VO HONG PHUC, MINISTER OF INDUSTRY HOANG TRUNG
HAI, AND MINISTER OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING NGUYEN MINH
HIEN.

3. (U) IN RUSSIA, MANH SPENT MOST OF HIS TIME IN MOSCOW,
WHERE HE MET WITH PRESIDENT PUTIN, PRIME MINISTER KASYANOV,
THE SPEAKER OF THE DUMA, MOSCOW'S MAYOR, AND SEVERAL LEADERS
OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF RUSSIA, ACCORDING TO PRESS
REPORTS. MANH ALSO VISITED ST. PETERSBURG'S ACADEMY OF
FORESTRY, WHERE HE HAD STUDIED IN THE LATE 1960S AND WHERE
HE ON THIS VISIT HAD "INFORMAL AND FRIENDLY" EXCHANGES WITH
FACULTY AND STUDENTS, ACCORDING TO VLADIMIR TOKMAKOV,
RUSSIAN EMBASSY FIRST SECRETARY. IN BELARUS, MANH MET WITH
PRESIDENT ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, UPPER CHAMBER SPEAKER
ALEXANDER VOITOVICH, LOWER HOUSE SPEAKER VADIM POPOV, AND
FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SERGEY SIDORSKY, ACCORDING TO
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY BELARUS EMBASSY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES
ALEKSANDER PARKHUTA.

-----------------
TRADE - IMPROVING
-----------------

4. (SBU) BILATERAL TRADE WITH RUSSIAN IS REPORTEDLY
EXPECTED TO INCREASE ALMOST 40 PERCENT FROM 2001 TO 2002 -
TO ALMOST USD 700 MILLION - BUT THIS REMAINS "MODEST"
COMPARED TO BILATERAL TRADE BETWEEN VIETNAM AND THE U.S. AND
VIETNAM AND THE PRC, ACCORDING TO VARIOUS SOURCES. (TRADE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02622 01 OF 04 301009Z
WITH THE U.S. IS EXPECTED TO REACH ABOUT USD 1.7 BILLION
THIS YEAR WHILE TRADE WITH THE PRC WILL PROBABLY EXCEED USD
3 BILLION.) TWO-WAY TRADE CURRENTLY FAVORS RUSSIA - ITS
EXPORTS TO VIETNAM ARE ABOUT DOUBLE ITS IMPORTS, ACCORDING
TO PRESS REPORTS AND THE VIETNAM TRADE PROMOTION AGENCY.
WITHOUT GOING INTO DETAILS, THE RUSSIAN EMBASSY'S TOKMAKOV
SAID THAT PROSPECTS ARE "EXCELLENT" FOR TWO-WAY TRADE TO
REACH USD ONE BILLION "OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS." TOKMAKOV
OPINED THAT ONE REASON FOR THE MOST RECENT JUMP WAS THE
VISIT OF PRESIDENT PUTIN TO VIETNAM IN MARCH 2001, AND THE
"MANY ADDITIONAL BUSINESS CONTACTS" THAT THIS VISIT HAD
FACILITATED. ADDITIONALLY, VIETNAM IS BEGINNING TO INVEST
IN JOINT VENTURES IN RUSSIA, ESPECIALLY IN THE FOODSTUFFS
AND GARMENT INDUSTRIES.

5. (SBU) MANH'S DELEGATION RAISED THE IDEA OF A FREE TRADE
AGREEMENT WITH RUSSIA. TOKMAKOV AND, SEPARATELY, DR. BUI
HUY KHOAT, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE OF EUROPEAN STUDIES OF
THE NATIONAL CENTRE FOR SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES,
NOTED THAT THIS HAD BEEN ON THE GVN'S AGENDA PREVIOUSLY, BUT
THE RUSSIANS CONTINUE TO BE "UNENTHUSIASTIC" ABOUT IT,
ACCORDING TO KHOAT. TOKMAKOV SAID THAT THE RUSSIAN SIDE HAD
REQUESTED ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATIONS FROM THE VIETNAMESE AS
TO JUST WHAT THEY MEAN BY A "FREE TRADE AGREEMENT." DR.
KHOAT OPINED IT WOULD "PROBABLY" BE DISCUSSED AT THE NEXT
SEMI-ANNUAL MEETING OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMISSION, BUT
NOTED THAT RUSSIA IS "MOST LIKELY MORE INTERESTED IN

UNCLASSIFIED

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ACCESSION TO THE WTO" THAN NEGOTIATING A SEPARATE TRADE
AGREEMENT WITH VIETNAM. (NOTE: WHAT VIETNAM IS MOSTLY
LIKELY SEEKING IS LOWER TARIFFS ON VIETNAMESE GOODS EXPORTED
TO RUSSIA. END NOTE)

6. (U) TRADE WITH BELARUS IS "VERY MODEST," ADMITTED
NGUYEN MANH HUNG, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE CPV CENTRAL
COMMITTEE'S COMMISSION FOR EXTERNAL RELATIONS. DURING THE
FIRST SIX MONTHS OF 2002, TRADE TURNOVER REACHED JUST USD 15
MILLION. (THIS APPEARS TO REPRESENT A DECLINE FROM 2001,
WHEN BILATERAL TRADE REACHED ABOUT USD 41 MILLION, ACCORDING
TO ONE PRESS REPORT.) VIETNAM IMPORTS TRUCKS, TRACTORS,
MOTORBIKES, FERTILIZERS, AND ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AND
EXPORTS RICE, GROUND NUTS, COFFEE, PROCESSED FRUIT AND
VEGETABLES, TEXTILES, AND FOOTWEAR.

7. (SBU) HUNG (WHO ACCOMPANIED MANH ON THE TRIP) EXPRESSED
OPTIMISM THAT MANH'S VISIT WILL "HELP BOTH SIDES REACH THEIR
TRADE POTENTIAL." HE POINTED TO A "PRELIMINARY" AGREEMENT
FOR VIETNAM TO ASSEMBLE BELARUS TRACTORS (CONTINGENT UPON A
FEASIBILITY STUDY) AS WELL AS A JOINT VENTURE TO ASSEMBLE
MINSK MOTORBIKES, WHICH ARE POPULAR IN VIETNAM'S MOUNTAINOUS
REGIONS. ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, BELARUS HAS THUS FAR
ONLY INVESTED IN TWO JOINT VENTURES - BOTH IN QUANG NINH
PROVINCE IN NORTHEASTERN VIETNAM: ONE TO REFURBISH USED
TRUCKS AND ANOTHER TO PRODUCE CONDOMS. HUNG DID NOT EXPLAIN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02622 02 OF 04 301010Z
WHY BILATERAL TRADE WILL APPARENTLY DECLINE THIS YEAR, BUT
NOTED THAT, "ON THE POSITIVE SIDE," BELARUS LEADERS HAVE
INDICATED INTEREST IN A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH VIETNAM.
WHILE HE EXPRESSED OPTIMISM THAT SUCH AN AGREEMENT WOULD
EXPAND TWO-WAY TRADE "SIGNIFICANTLY," HE DECLINED TO PREDICT
WHEN IT MIGHT BE CONCLUDED OR PROVIDE DETAILS AS TO WHAT
SUCH AN AGREEMENT MIGHT ENTAIL.

----------------------------------
CAM RANH BAY - NO CHANGE IN STATUS
----------------------------------

8. (SBU) DR. KHOAT AND TOKMAKOV CONFIRMED SEPARATELY THAT
CAM RANH BAY WAS NOT OFFICIALLY ON THE AGENDA. HOWEVER,
ACCORDING TO A RUSSIAN PRESS REPORT, MANH AND PUTIN BRIEFLY
DISCUSSED THE FUTURE OF THE BASE AND MANH PROMISED IT WOULD
"NOT BE GIVEN AWAY TO ANY STATE." THE CPV'S HUNG SAID THAT
HE "DID NOT RECALL" THE TWO LEADERS DISCUSSING CAM RANH BAY,
BUT SAID THAT THE CITED PRESS REPORT WAS CONSISTENT WITH
VIETNAM'S POSITION, WHICH IS "WELL-KNOWN TO RUSSIA AND OTHER
COUNTRIES." (NOTE: THE GVN HAS MADE IT CLEAR THAT IT WOULD
NOT LEASE CAM RANH BAY AGAIN TO ANY SINGLE FOREIGN MILITARY.
END NOTE)

-----------
COOPERATION
-----------

9. (SBU) HUNG SAID THAT THE VISITS HAD PROVIDED A FORUM TO
DISCUSS COOPERATION IN OTHER AREAS, SPECIFICALLY SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES, AS WELL AS VIETNAM'S
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02622 02 OF 04 301010Z
DESIRE TO SEE RUSSIA EXPAND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR
VIETNAMESE STUDENTS. HUNG CITED A "VERY POSITIVE" MEETING
BETWEEN GVN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER (AND FORMER TRADE
MINISTER) VU KHOAN AND RUSSIA'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
KRISTENKO, DURING WHICH THEY DISCUSSED A "GENERAL FRAMEWORK"
FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION. HUNG SAID
THAT THIS WOULD BE REVIEWED IN MORE DETAIL AT THE NEXT INTER-
GOVERNMENTAL COMMISSION MEETING, SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE IN
DECEMBER. IN ADDITION, HUNG NOTED THAT THE LEADERS
DISCUSSED THEIR DESIRE FOR "FURTHER CULTURAL TIES" BETWEEN
CITIES IN RUSSIA AND VIETNAM. REGARDING TRAINING, HUNG SAID
THAT VIETNAMESE CONTINUE TO REGARD RUSSIA AS A "DESIRABLE
LOCATION" FOR ADVANCED STUDIES AND TRAINING. ALTHOUGH
UNABLE TO CITE SPECIFIC FIGURES, HUNG SAID THE NUMBERS OF
VIETNAMESE STUDYING IN RUSSIA IS "INCREASING STEADILY;"
MANH THANKED PUTIN FOR RUSSIA'S CONTINUED SUPPORT IN THIS
SECTOR. (NOTE: IN THE HEYDAY OF EDUCATIONAL "EXCHANGES", THE
FORMER SOVIET UNION AND OTHER EASTERN BLOC NATIONS SPONSORED
UP TO 20,000 VIETNAMESE STUDENTS A YEAR ON "FULL"
SCHOLARSHIPS. MOST VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS OVER 45 YEARS OLD
HOLD DEGREES FROM MOSCOW, SOFIA, BUDAPEST, BERLIN, AND
WARSAW ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS. WITH THE CHANGE IN POLITICAL
SYSTEMS AND POLITICAL PRIORITIES IN THOSE FORMER COMMUNIST
COMRADE COUNTRIES, SCHOLARSHIPS DROPPED DRAMATICALLY AND IN
SOME CASES, DISAPPEARED. MOST VIETNAMESE THESE DAYS WOULD
PREFER TO GO TO THE U.S., AUSTRALIA OR EUROPE TO STUDY. END
NOTE)

UNCLASSIFIED

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-------------------------------------
OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE - NOT ALL IS WELL
-------------------------------------

10. (SBU) TOKMAKOV SAID THAT MOST OF THE 120,000
VIETNAMESE LIVING IN RUSSIA ARE DOING SO LEGALLY, BUT THERE
"HAVE BEEN PROBLEMS" WITH SOME VIETNAMESE OVERSTAYING VISAS
AND OTHERS ENGAGING IN TRADE INVOLVING COUNTERFEIT GOODS.
ACCORDING TO ONE PRESS REPORT, RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES CRACKED
DOWN IN AUGUST, CLOSING A VIETNAMESE-RUN TRADE CENTER AND
SEIZING "COUNTERFEIT" GOODS AT ANOTHER. TOKMAKOV SAID THERE
HAVE ALSO BEEN "UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS" OF RUSSIAN
"HOOLIGANS" ATTACKING VIETNAMESE IN MOSCOW. THE CPV'S HUNG
CLAIMED THAT THERE ARE "NO ILLEGAL VIETNAMESE" IN RUSSIA.
HE EXPLAINED THAT MANY VIETNAMESE HAD GONE TO RUSSIA DURING
THE SOVIET ERA ON CONTRACTS; SOME WERE THE VICTIMS OF THE
"RESULTING CHAOS" THAT ENSUED WHEN THE SOVIET UNION
COLLAPSED AND MANY FACTORIES CHANGED OWNERSHIP. THUS, WHILE
THERE MAY BE "MISUNDERSTANDINGS" REGARDING THEIR STATUS,
VIETNAM DENIES ANY OF ITS CITIZENS ARE IN RUSSIA ILLEGALLY.
HUNG SAID THAT MANH HAD PRESSED PUTIN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY
OF ALL VIETNAMESE LIVING IN RUSSIA. HUNG SAID THAT THERE
ARE SIMILAR QUESTIONS REGARDING VIETNAMESE LIVING IN
BELARUS, BUT THE NUMBERS ARE MUCH SMALLER.

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02622 03 OF 04 301010Z
--------------------------------------------- ---
TERRORISM - WE CONDEMN IT, BUT STICK WITH THE UN
--------------------------------------------- ---

11. (SBU) MANH AND HIS HOSTS AGREED ON THE NEED TO
ERADICATE TERRORISM. HOWEVER, HUNG NOTED THAT THE LEADERS
HAD ALSO EMPHASIZED THAT COUNTERTERRORISM ACTIVITIES SHOULD
BE CARRIED OUT WITHIN A MULTILATERAL FRAMEWORK AND "WITHOUT
INFRINGING ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF INDIVIDUAL NATIONS." AS
EXEMPLIFIED IN THE JOINT COMMUNIQU WITH BELARUS, BOTH SIDES
"PROTEST AGAINST THE ABUSE OF ANTI-TERRORISM TO INTERFERE
INTO OTHER NATIONS' INTERNAL AFFAIRS."

---------------------------------------
HUMAN RIGHTS - A POSSIBLE FUTURE ISSUE?
---------------------------------------

12. (SBU) WHILE THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DID NOT COME UP
DURING THIS VISIT, DR. KHOAT SUGGESTED THAT IT COULD BE A
FUTURE ISSUE WITH RUSSIA. HE NOTED THAT "A FEW" DUMA
MEMBERS HAVE CRITICIZED VIETNAM OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS FOR
ITS RECORD ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY. THE CPV'S HUNG
CONFIRMED SEPARATELY THAT THIS ISSUE DID NOT COME DURING THE
VISIT. HUNG STATED THAT SUCH A DISCUSSION WOULD BE
"UNNATURAL" SINCE RUSSIA AND VIETNAM HAVE NO DISAGREEMENT
OVER HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY. HE OPINED THAT, IN ANY
LARGE LEGISLATIVE BODY, THERE ARE BOUND TO BE A "WIDE
VARIETY" OF OPINIONS. HE DISCOUNTED THE VIEW THAT HUMAN
RIGHTS WOULD EVER BE A BILATERAL ISSUE.

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

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DEFENSE COOPERATION
-------------------

13. (SBU) MILITARY-TO-MILITARY COOPERATION WAS NOT
SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED IN THE JOINT COMMUNIQUS. HOWEVER,
TOKMAKOV SAID THAT, DURING THE VISIT, MANH REITERATED
VIETNAM'S VIEW THAT MILITARY COOPERATION IS "IMPORTANT."
TOKMAKOV NOTED THAT, WHILE VIETNAM CANNOT "AFFORD MUCH," ITS
MILITARY STILL NEEDS BASIC EQUIPMENT AND SPARE PARTS THAT
THE RUSSIANS CAN SUPPLY. THE CPV'S HUNG SAID SEPARATELY
THAT THE SUBJECT WAS "DISCUSSED ONLY VERY GENERALLY" DURING
BOTH VISITS. AN OCTOBER 7 GVN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT NOTED THAT VIETNAM AND BELARUS HAD AGREED
TO COOPERATE, INTER ALIA, ON "DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY."

14. (SBU) WHILE NOT FORMALLY PART OF THE MANH VISITS,
SEPARATE VIETNAMESE MILITARY DELEGATIONS VISITED BOTH
COUNTRIES AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME. ACCORDING TO A VIETNAMESE
PRESS REPORT, IN THE FIRST WEEK OF OCTOBER, A DELEGATION OF
THE VIETNAM SEARCH-AND-RESCUE COMMISSION, HEADED BY ITS
PERMANENT DEPUTY CHAIRMAN LIEUTENANT GENERAL NGUYEN HUY
HIEU, HELD TALKS WITH HIS RUSSIAN COUNTERPARTS. THE REPORT
NOTED THAT RUSSIAN OFFICIALS HAD REAFFIRMED THEIR
WILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE WITH VIETNAM IN "SEARCH AND RESCUE
OPERATIONS, PERSONNEL TRAINING, AND EQUIPMENT SUPPLY." ON
OCTOBER 16, ANOTHER VIETNAMESE MILITARY DELEGATION, LED BY
AIR DEFENSE COMMANDER NGUYEN PHAN THAN, ARRIVED IN BELARUS

UNCLASSIFIED

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M-00 AC-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 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 USSS-00
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FOR TALKS ON MILITARY AND MILITARY-TECHNICAL COOPERATION,
ACCORDING TO A RUSSIAN PRESS REPORT. THE VIETNAMESE
DELEGATION WAS SLATED TO VISIT SEVERAL BELARUS AIR FORCE
INSTALLATIONS AS WELL AS OTHER MILITARY UNITS AND DEFENSE
INDUSTRIES. DR. KHOAT SAID THAT HE "DOUBTED THE VISITS WERE
CONNECTED" BECAUSE THE GVN'S MINISTRY OF DEFENSE NORMALLY
ARRANGES ITS VISITS INDEPENDENTLY. TOKMAKOV SAID SEPARATELY
THAT THE VIETNAMESE MILITARY'S WORKING VISIT TO RUSSIA
AROUND THE SAME TIME AS MANH'S WAS A "COINCIDENCE" AND "THE
MINISTRIES HAD PROBABLY WORKED IT OUT AMONG THEMSELVES A
LONG TIME AGO."

------------
WHAT'S NEXT?
-----------

15. (U) THE CPV'S HUNG SAID THAT HE EXPECTED HIGH LEVEL
VISITS TO CONTINUE AT A STEADY PACE OVER THE FORESEEABLE
FUTURE. HE ADDED THAT SOME MEMBERS OF THE GVN LEADERSHIP
MIGHT VISIT RUSSIA IN 2003, WHEN THERE WILL BE A CONGRESS
FOR GRADUATES FROM RUSSIAN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING.
MANH INVITED BOTH PUTIN AND LUKASHENKO TO VISIT VIETNAM AND,
ACCORDING TO HUNG AND PRESS REPORTS, THEY "HAPPILY
ACCEPTED." HOWEVER, NO DATES HAVE BEEN SET FOR THEIR
VISITS.
BURGHARDT
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02622 04 OF 04 301010Z

UNCLASSIFIED

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