Cablegate: Vietnam Views On Non-Aligned Movement Summit

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

REF: Kuala Lumpur 1080 and previous

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: From the GVN's perspective, the
recently concluded Non-Aligned Movement summit in Kuala
Lumpur demonstrated that NAM continues to "revitalize and
unify." While NAM came out strongly against a war on Iraq,
Vietnamese officials did not view the conference as "anti-
American." President Tran Duc Luong, who led the GVN
delegation, conferred with numerous leaders during the
summit. Vietnam was pleased with the emphasis on "south to
south" cooperation, and plans to take a "more active" role


2. (SBU) Le Hoai Trung, Deputy Director for the MFA's
International Organizations Department (MFA/IO), met with
poloff on March 3 to discuss Vietnam's perspective on the
13th NAM summit held in Kuala Lumpur February 25-26. Trung
was part of the GVN delegation. (Biographic Note: Trung
was graduated from the MFA's Institute of International
Relations, has an MA from the Fletcher School, and served
three tours in Vietnam's Mission to the U.N. End Note).

3. (SBU) Trung said that the GVN delegation came away from
the summit "very impressed" that NAM appeared "more unified
and more relevant" in a "very complicated world situation."
He opined that the summit's focus on "strengthening security
and political independence" was "quite appropriate,"
especially regarding timely issues such as Iraq, Palestine-
Israel, and the Korean Peninsula. Trung, who also attended
the last NAM summit five years ago, claimed that this summit
was "less contentious," likely due to greater consensus over
the "tense and complicated" world security situation.


4. (SBU) Trung noted that President Luong had stressed in
his remarks that during this "difficult period" it is
"especially important" to demonstrate NAM's "unity against
war." Trung emphasized that, from the GVN's perspective,
the strong stand against war should not be viewed as "anti-
American" per se. He admitted that some speeches "could be
construed as "anti-American," but claimed that, since NAM
works on a consensus basis, the final document was
"relatively moderate." Trung also admitted, however, that
"some" participants viewed the US actions (current or
planned) concerning Iraq "if not anti-Muslim, then a form of
discrimination, considering what is going on in the Korean
Peninsula and Palestine." Some members also feel "insecure
and nervous," he added. Trung noted that the general theme
of settling the Iraq issue "peacefully and within the UN
framework" was one with which Vietnam agrees and has
repeatedly stated publicly and privately.


5. (SBU) Over the course of the two-day summit, President
Luong held separate bilateral meetings with 15 heads of
state, according to Trung and press reports. Most were
relatively short, "sideline" meetings, but Trung highlighted
several deliverables from these talks:
--the opening of a Vietnamese embassy in Bangladesh;
--Namibia's attendance at a conference on Vietnam-Africa
cooperation scheduled for late May in Hanoi;
--continuation of rice exports to Indonesia and progress on
settlement of overlapping claims on the continental shelf;
--boosting trade with Iran.


6. (SBU) Trung said that due to the "complicated" world
situation, economics took a back seat to the political
issues, but the GVN was "gratified" to see that there was
more discussion on "south to south" cooperation. In
addition, there was discussion about "triangular
assistance," a method Vietnam has applied to assisting
Benin, Madagascar, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of
the Congo. Under this scheme, Vietnam provides some
expertise (normally in rice production) along with
contributions from the host government and UN and/or NGO
assistance. Trung said African nations "very much
appreciate" Vietnam's technical assistance. He added that
these efforts fit well with Vietnam's goal to increase its
presence in Africa, with the understanding that Vietnam does
not have the capability to be an Official Development
Assistance donor. Some foreign officials told Trung that
the "triangular assistance" model could be useful as a
vehicle for additional "south to south" cooperation.


7. (SBU) Trung claimed that Vietnam's status within the
NAM appeared to have improved over the past five years,
likely due to Vietnam's outreach efforts and to its own
developing economy and "impressive" growth rate. As further
evidence of the country's rising stature among NAM members,
Vietnam was elected as one of the NAM summit's 25 vice
chairs, he noted. Trung predicted that Vietnam would
continue its efforts "to make further contributions to the
organization, without taking on a leadership role."

8. (SBU) Separately, Professor Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy,
Deputy Dean of Hanoi National University's Faculty of
International Studies, opined that, while the NAM remains a
useful organization for Vietnam, it is "very large and
complicated, and members' interests change over time." She
predicted that ASEAN would remain more important to
Vietnam's overall interests.

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