Cablegate: Foreign Minister's Letter to Secretary Powell

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: Hanoi 0690

1. (U) Foreign Minister Nien has written to the Secretary
ostensibly to cite progress in bilateral ties but in reality
to complain about the likely reintroduction in Congress of
the Vietnam Human Rights Act and passage or expected passage
at the city and state levels of various "flag bills"
mandating the usage of the former South Vietnam flag
(reftel). He specifically asked for help in opposing both
initiatives. The Foreign Ministry will undoubtedly expect a
response. Embassy will pouch original to EAP/BCLTV. Full
text in para 2.

2. (U) text of letter
Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Hanoi, March 26, 2003

TO: H.E. Mr. Colin L. Powell
Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I am writing to express my satisfaction with the recent
positive development in Vietnam-U.S. relations. Well under
way are the talks aimed at speeding up the implementation of
the Vietnam-U.S. Bilateral Trade Agreement and the Science
and Technology Agreement. The first round of talks on a
Textile Agreement has been initiated and the last productive
round of negotiation on the Aviation Accord has helped to
narrow down the two sides' differences in this matter.
Notably, the success of the 13rd Annual Asia Corporate
Conference recently held in Hanoi by the Asia Society and
Dow Jones & Company in collaboration with Vietnamese
relevant agencies, has contributed to strengthening the
investment and trade ties as well as the mutual
understanding between our two countries.

To ensure further development of the two countries'
relations along this positive line, it is most essential to
create a favorable political environment. And you would
agree with me this requires constructive efforts from both

As you may know, more than a year ago, the U.S. House of
Representatives' passage of the Bill H.R. 2833 on Human
rights in Vietnam resulted in a profound and widespread
disappointment among the Vietnamese people. Fortunately,
thanks to the understanding and cooperation of the U.S.
members of congress, particularly with the kind attention
and efforts of yourself and your staff, this bill has been
dropped. However, some U.S. congressmen have recently been
trying to re-introduce this very bill to the House of
Representatives. Negative impact on the Vietnam-U.S.
relationship would therefore be extremely grave. Moreover,
while noting with appreciation the cooperation of the U.S.
Government and your State Department in handling the Bill No
2829 of the House of State of Virginia related to the
deceased Saigon regime's flag, we are now very much
concerned about recent moves by some City Councils in
several cities, namely, Westminster, Garden Grove,
California. They have endorsed resolutions allowing the
flag to be displayed at public buildings, schools, and at
public functions of the Vietnamese-American community in
those cities. Moreover, we have just learned that the draft
resolution ACR 68 is now being introduced at the Assembly of
California. Such actions have rekindled the past of hated
among the Vietnamese-American communities in several other
cities such as San Jose, Oakland, Santa Ana, Midway City,
Huntington Beach, undermining the on-going process of
national reconciliation and unity of the whole population of
Vietnam. At the same time, these actions have sent wrong
signals about the U.S. Government policy as well as its
observance of the law in this regard, namely to recognize
only the National Flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
in our bilateral diplomatic relations. Such above-mentioned
developments are causing great disappointment within the
Government and the entire people of Vietnam, obstructing the
on-going process of mutual understanding promotion and
damaging our greater and long-term interests in the Vietnam-
U.S. relations.

I do hope that, with your noble and responsible position,
you and your capable staff in the Department of State would
take all appropriate and timely measures to prevent and
remove for good the Vietnam Human Rights Bill as well as the
issue of allowing the display of the former regime's flag
from our bilateral relations. This will make a necessary
move to contribute to our joint efforts to go beyond the
past and towards the future, in line with the realities and
vast interests of the relations between the Governments and
peoples of Vietnam and the United States.

Please accept, Mr. Secretary, the renewed assurances of my
highest consideration. I look forward to meeting you in
person to discuss new steps to accelerate our bilateral

Yours sincerely,

/s/ Dy Nien /s/
Nguyen Dy Nien
end quote

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