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Cablegate: Mekong Subregion Anti-Drug Cooperation

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002622

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INL/AAE, EAP/BCLTV, IO/UNP, and EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV SNAR EAID CH VM CNARC
SUBJECT: MEKONG SUBREGION ANTI-DRUG COOPERATION

1. (U) Summary: At a recent six-party ministerial-level anti-
drug conference in Hanoi, Thailand and China pushed hard for
more concrete action against ATS and precursor chemicals.
Conferees agreed that border liaison offices were effective
and should be expanded, but one visited by poloff on the
Vietnamese side of the Vietnam-China border appeared poorly
equipped and relatively inactive. The conferees signed off
on a UNODC project supporting the extension of the MOU
partnership process, including a fifty percent cost
contribution from the member countries. End Summary.

-------------------------------------
BIANNUAL MINISTERIAL MEETING ON DRUGS
-------------------------------------

2. (U) From September 23-25, Vietnam hosted the Senior
Officials Committee and Ministerial Meetings of the
Signatory Countries to the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) on Drug Control, including Vietnam, China, Thailand,
Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. The purpose of the meeting was
to review the progress of the twelve ongoing individual
projects that make up the Subregional Action Plan on Drug
Control (total budget: $15 million) and seven pipeline
projects envisioned for the future (total budget: $4
million).


3. (U) Thailand and China were successful in persuading the
group to include a paragraph in the Joint Hanoi Declaration
on Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS) and precursors,
although not in obtaining new projects addressing these
problems. The conferees also signed an MOU approving a new
project continuing the SOC and Ministerial Meeting process,
with 50 percent funding from member countries. (Previously,
100 percent of the funding for these meetings came from the
UN Office of Drugs and Crime.) In addition, the
participants agreed that border liaison offices were
valuable for transnational cooperation against drugs and
crime in the Mekong subregion, and that Vietnam should open
three new border liaison offices in addition to the existing
three offices along the borders with Laos, Cambodia, and
China.

-------------
THAR SHE BLOs
-------------

3. (U) According to Deputy Section Chief Dr. Tran Xuan Sac
of the Department of Social Evils Prevention of the Ministry
of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs, Vietnam had two
major objectives for the conference: to demonstrate its
commitment to combating international drug trafficking, and
to develop the border liaison office program further. Both
were achieved, he told poloff. Dr. Sac said that the BLO
with China (in the town of Mong Cai, on the coast) was
particularly effective, having solved the problem of
"ineffective government-to-government communication."
Vietnamese media also directed recent attention to the BLO
in Mong Cai, doing a television feature on the office and
giving it credit for "a number" of heroin and marijuana
seizures.

4. (U) The BLOs in Vietnam were set up in 1999 under a Japan-
funded regional UNODC project called "Development of Cross-
Border Law Enforcement Cooperation in East Asia." The BLOs
also receive computer-based training materials and guidance
from another UNODC project. UNODC is now considering ways
to expand BLO counternarcotics cooperation to encompass
trafficking in persons, as well.

--------------------------------------------- -------
BLO IN MONG CAI NO HIVE OF ACTIVITY, BUT NOT USELESS
--------------------------------------------- -------

5. (U) Poloff visited the BLO in Mong Cai on October 2. The
two-room office is located inside the Mong Cai People's
Committee headquarters, and is sparsely furnished.
Equipment consists of a single computer with a printer, a
copier, and a telephone. The computer is not hooked up to
the Internet, and the phone has not worked in six months,
according to Deputy Chief of the BLO Major Colonel Hoang
Thanh Nhuong. Despite these setbacks, Nhuong claimed, the
office worked well. The computer, even when not connected
to the Internet, is useful for producing computer-based
training using materials provided by the UNODC, he added.
He noted that the landline phone was not a problem since
contact with the Chinese BLO was primarily via cell phone.
Chief of the BLO (and vice-chairman of the Mong Cai People's
Committee) Duong Van Co said separately that Vietnamese
border liaison officers met their Chinese counterparts on a
scheduled basis once a month, and more frequently if a case
came up that warranted cross-border consultation. Co and
Nhuong both attributed increased marijuana and heroin
seizures to more cooperation between the two sides.
However, Co admitted that the two sides conducted joint
operations "rarely, if at all."

6. (U) Comment: From the Vietnamese perspective, the
conference was a success. Minister of Public Security Le
Hung Anh had the opportunity to network with his regional
counterparts, and the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime
Minister came to the conference to speak, have their
pictures taken, and meet the other ministers. The GVN is
clearly wedded to these BLOs and will welcome their
expansion, even if the BLOs' current track records are
likely less impressive than the prominent Vietnamese news
coverage of several drug seizures and arrests would suggest.
Nonetheless, more cooperation is still better than less or
none.
BURGHARDT

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