Cablegate: Reaction to Secretary's Unsc Presentation

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: A) State 33974 B) State 34169

1. (U) In a meeting with Assistant Foreign Minister Nguyen
Duc Hung on February 6, Charge delivered a copy of Secretary
Powell's presentation to the February 5 open meeting of the
UNSC and reinforced it with the points provided in para 2 of
ref B. Hung said that the GVN was "still studying" the
Secretary's speech and would probably not have any

substantive reaction until "tomorrow or next week." He did
comment, however, that the GVN hoped that the United States
could avoid going to war against Iraq.

2. (U) Perhaps due to the late night timing (local) of the
Secretary's presentation, there has been no official GVN

comment as of COB February 6. The MFA canceled its regular
Thursday press briefing and now plans no further press
briefings until February 20.

3. (U) On January 30, MFA spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh had
asserted officially that "all available information
indicates that Iraq has been and is cooperating with the UN
according to Resolution 1441" and expressed a wish for the
Iraq issue to be "resolved peacefully on the basis of
respect for Iraq's independence, sovereignty and territorial
integrity in conformity with the UN Charter and
international laws." A Vietnam News Service commentary on
February 1 claimed that "The US' insistent disbelief of
Iraq's claims can only mean war is near" and that "current
information proves that Iraq has been co-operating with the

4. (U) Vietnamese television reported on February 5 and 6
the Secretary's presentation to the UN Security Council, but
did not carry the presentation in full. It added that many
Americans believed that the speech contained no "new
information" or was "hard to believe." TV news also carried
a report of an anti-war demonstration in New York City. The
Communist Party's flagstaff "People" (Nhan Dan) daily
newspaper on February 6 carried a Reuters account of the
presentation at the end of a longer article under the title
of "The danger of an attack on Iraq grows nearer." Leading
that article were "confirmations" from Saddam Hussein, from
his British TV interview, that Iraq did not have weapons of
mass destruction, as well as accusations that the U.S.
sought to attack Iraq in order to gain control of Middle
East oil resources. Coverage in the "People's Army" daily
was similar, under a sub-title "many countries oppose the US
plot to attack Iraq."

5. (U) In Ho Chi Minh City, two newspaper contacts told the
ConGen that the Secretary's presentation was impressive and
credited the U.S. for setting out its case relatively
objectively. They added that there was no smoking gun,
which ultimately made it less convincing. Of four ConGen
local Vietnamese business contacts, only two were familiar
with the content of the speech. They stated that the speech
was a clear indication the U.S. will go to war, although
they would prefer a peaceful solution to the problem.

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