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Cablegate: Deputy Prime Minister On Iraq

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: A. HANOI 0567 B. FBIS SEP20030311000012
- C. STATE 63629

1. (U) In a meeting on March 10 devoted primarily to
bilateral ties (ref a), senior Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen
Tan Dung described Vietnam's "consistent" policy regarding
Iraq: The GVN opposed terrorism, opposed using the excuse
of terrorism to invade another country, and opposed weapons
of mass destruction. He urged the international community -
- working through the UN -- to use "peaceful means" to get
Iraq to disarm. (Ref b provides MFA spokeswoman's most
recent iteration of the GVN position on March 7.) He
specifically noted that Vietnam would oppose a war against
Iraq in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution. He
emphasized that Vietnam, as a victim of war, opposed war due
to the suffering, losses, and deaths of innocent civilians.
He noted that a resort to non-peaceful means would be
"counter to civilization" in the 21st century.

2. (U) DPM Dung added that Vietnam's "good relations" with
Iraq were as two sovereign, independent states that do not
interfere in each other's internal affairs and sought
mutually beneficial economic ties. He emphasized that Iraq
had helped Vietnam during the US embargo on Vietnam by
enabling it to purchase oil. He noted that Vietnam owed
Iraq USD 500 million for those purchases. (Note: It was
not clear whether that was the original or remaining debt.)
He said that Vietnam sold about USD 500 million worth of
rice, milk, and other commodities to Iraq each year under
the UN's Food for Oil Program.

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3. (U) Ambassador stressed that the U.S. did not seek war,
which could have horrible and unpredictable consequences.
He noted, however, as Secretary Powell had recently stated,
that the time comes when a clear and credible threat of war
is the only way to get a response. He emphasized that
Saddam Hussein's very small responses so far had come only
because of these threats. He urged Vietnam to use its good
relations with Iraq to appeal to its leaders to do what they
should have been doing regarding disarmament over the past
twelve years. He noted that UN inspectors had confirmed the
existence of WMD programs in the 1990s, but we had yet to
see sufficient explanations of where these weapons are now.
He warned that failure to enforce UNSC resolutions could
have serious consequences for the credibility of the
institution, citing the example of the League of Nation's
impotence when Italy invaded Abyssinia. He stressed that
"time was running out" for the Iraqi leadership to cooperate
fully as required under UNSCR 1441 and earlier resolutions.
DPM Dung reiterated his appeal for "peaceful methods" only.

4. (U) Comment: Vietnam has already made up its mind on
Iraq and likely will continue to stick to what it sees as
the moral high ground of opposing war in general. We
suspect even the passage of an additional UNSCR authorizing
military action would not convince the GVN to add its public
support to such efforts. There is, sadly, little likelihood
that the GVN would ever use whatever channels of
communication exist between its leaders and Saddam Hussein
to urge Iraq to do the right thing, and quickly. End

5. (U) In light of the above, Embassy will not deliver ref
c demarche request.

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