Cablegate: Vietnam Trying to Convince Pyongyang On

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) Summary: Vietnam continues to encourage North Korea
to follow the same path of economic reforms Vietnam has
successfully implemented but remains mostly circumspect on
other issues like disarmament or the Six Party Talks. End

2. (U) Deputy Foreign Minister Le Van Bang, responsible for
Northeast Asian affairs until October 31, recently led an
MFA delegation to North Korea. He emphasized to Ambassador
on October 31 that his trip was not in any way "unusual," as
other MFA staffers had described it. He noted that he had
also accompanied the Prime Minister on his trip to Seoul in
mid-September, and said that Vietnam would continue in its
efforts to promote good relations with both Koreas.

3. (SBU) Bang said that the South Koreans had asked Vietnam
to "show North Korea your reforms" and were "glad" that Bang
and others could visit. Bang expressed a hope that the USG
would see such efforts by Vietnam as helpful and as part of
a larger process to encourage the North Koreans to be more
open and to concentrate on economic development and trade
instead of military affairs. He described his North Korean
interlocutors, who included what he called the "#3" in the
hierarchy or equivalent of a vice president, as well as the
Deputy Foreign Minister and a representative of the
Friendship Society, as "militaristic" and "stiff."

4. (SBU) On his first visit, Bang was impressed by the
infrastructure, which he called a decade more advanced than
Vietnam's. However, he commented that North Korea's economy
was like Vietnam's "twenty years ago" in its centralization
and state planning. He admitted that North Korean heavy
industry was more advanced than Vietnam's, but cited food as
a "big problem." He noted that North Korea had sent two
delegations to Vietnam (reftel) to study Vietnam's reform
process, especially the legal framework for foreign
investment. Sweden had provided some assistance in this
effort, and Bang cited the need for additional financial
support from other countries for Vietnam to be able to
continue to play this role of example for North Korea would-
be reformers.

5. (SBU) Bang said that he did not carry any messages about
the Six Party talks, but that his North Korea hosts had
discussed it. They continued to indicate a preference,
however, for direct talks with and direct assistance from
the U.S., while claiming their nuclear preparations were in
response to U.S. "threats." Bang reiterated Vietnam's hope
for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a peaceful
settlement of current tensions.

6. (SBU) Comment: It would have been surprising had DFM
Bang -- or any other senior GVN official -- gone out on a
limb with the North Korean "traditional friends" by
recommending specific policy choices or even a favorable
decision on the Six Party talks. Vietnam's general stance
is to stick to general principles and avoid anything
smacking of interference in internal affairs. At the same
time, Vietnam is proud of the success of its "doi moi"
economic reform policies and happy to serve as a role model,
while unable to pick up much of the tab.

© Scoop Media

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