Cablegate: Mfa Suggests Next Round of Hr Dialogue

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

1. (U) In a meeting with A/DCM on July 30, MFA
International Organization Department Acting Director Pham
Binh Minh formally proposed that Vietnam host the next round
of US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, preferably in late
August 2003. He suggested that Vietnam would be ready to up
the level of leadership to the Vice Ministerial level,
although he was unsure who would lead on the Vietnamese
side. (He opined that VFM Le Van Bang might be the relevant
GVN official.) He said that he was unsure who the U.S.
equivalent might be, but suggested an Undersecretary.

2. (U) A/DCM cited Secretary Powell's recent letter to FM
Nien as describing growing concern over human rights
development in Vietnam and doubt over the efficacy of
dialogue. He noted in particular that heavy prison
sentences since the 2002 dialogue on peaceful Vietnamese
activists, most recently Pham Hong Son, had been especially
disappointing and worrisome, as indicative of a negative
trend. He urged Vietnam to take steps immediately to
improve the climate for dialogue, such as releasing peaceful
activists, providing more access to prisons and to court
proceedings, and becoming more transparent. He expressed
appreciation for MFA IO's role in providing updates on some
prisoners of concern, and noted that some of this news dated
back several years; it would have been even more helpful to
receive updates at the time of the releases in several of
the cases.

3. (U) Acting Director Minh responded that it was up to
the U.S. whether it wished to continue the dialogue or not;
A/DCM noted that the USG sought constructive dialogue that
led to an improvement in the human rights situation. Minh
reiterated Vietnam's own commitment to human rights
dialogues, which it now conducts with the EU, Norway, and
Australia and is seeking to expand further, as well as a
desire to broaden and elevate participation. He
specifically expressed a willingness to welcome Ambassador-
at-large for Religious Freedom Hanford to visit Vietnam in
the near future. Responding to a question, he said that the
MFA had no plans at present to host a political dialogue.

4. (SBU) Comment and action request: The GVN seems to be
blocking out all of the cautionary but forceful messages on
human rights we have been sending since the last dialogue.
The MFA in particular seems to view dialogue for dialogue's
sake as a goal in and of itself. In responding, it might be
advisable to provide a short list of near-term actions --
short of releases of the most prominent activists, which we
cannot realistically expect soon -- the GVN could
conceivably undertake that would warrant continuation of the
dialogue, even at the same or lower level as in previous
years. These could include, inter alia:
-- access by emboffs to notable prisoners of concern such
as Father Nguyen Van Ly, Pham Hong Son, Le Chi Quang, and
Nguyen Khac Toan;
-- access by emboffs to a type "A" Prison (for prisoners
serving over 20 year sentences;
-- access by emboffs, congenoffs, and international
journalists to upcoming trials of activists such as Tran Van
Que, Pham Van Duong, and Nguyen Dan Que;
-- MFA/MPS comments on previous human rights report and
international religious freedom report for corrections,
inaccuracies, etc.;
-- host visit by Ambassador Hanford; and,
-- invite Amnesty International and/or Human Rights Watch
on a fact-finding tour.
Please advise.

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