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Cablegate: Admiral Fargo Focuses On Areas of Continued And

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 000447

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP, INL/AAE, PM/WRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR MASS PTER SNAR KHDP KPOW KWMN KCRM VM ASEAN CTERR CNARC TIP
SUBJECT: ADMIRAL FARGO FOCUSES ON AREAS OF CONTINUED AND
FUTURE COOPERATION WITH VIETNAM MINISTRY OF DEFENSE


1. SUMMARY. COMMANDER, UNITED STATES PACIFIC COMMAND (PACOM)
WAS HOSTED BY THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE (MOD) FROM 08-11 FEBRUARY
2004. SENIOR MOD OFFICIALS CHARACTERIZED THE ADMIRAL'S VISIT AS
"VERY SUCCESSFUL." IT WAS MARKED BY LESS CAUTION AND MORE
WILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE THAN HAS BEEN EXPERIENCED IN PREVIOUS
SENIOR DOD VISITS TO VIETNAM, INCLUDING THAT OF THE LAST
COMMANDER, PACIFIC COMMAND VISIT TO VIETNAM IN 2002.
ADDITIONALLY, IN AN HISTORIC TRIP TO DANANG NAVAL BASE, THE PACOM
COMMANDER VISITED COMMANDER THIRD NAVAL REGION AND TOURED TWO OF
THE NAVAL REGION'S SHIPS HIS WAS POINTED OUT AS "THE FIRST
TIME A U.S. MILITARY OFFICER HAS EVER VISITED A VIETNAMESE NAVAL
SHIP."

2. VIETNAM'S DEFENSE LEADERSHIP AGREED TO PURSUE COOPERATION IN
COUNTERNARCOTICS AND COUNTERTERRORISM, AND TO CONTINUE
COOPERATION IN HUMANITARIAN DEMINING AND UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE
(UXO) REMOVAL AND POW/MIA RECOVERY. ADDITIONALLY, VIETNAM'S
DEFENSE LEADERSHIP AGREED TO CONTINUE SUPPORT FOR USN SHIP VISITS
TO VIETNAM. THE VICE MINISTER OF DEFENSE AND CHIEF OF GENERAL
STAFF STATED THAT HE INTENDED TO ATTEND THIS YEAR'S PACOM-
SPONSORED CHIEFS OF DEFENSE (CHOD) CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN JAPAN
- TO BE A FIRST FOR VIETNAM AT A CHOD CONFERENCE. VIETNAM
WELCOMED ASSISTANCE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRAINING, CITING THIS AS
THE AREA THAT MOST INHIBITS THE VIETNAMESE MILITARY FROM FULLER
PARTICIPATION IN REGIONAL DEFENSE ACTIVITIES. HE NOTED, HOWEVER,
THAT AGREEING TO THE TERMS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY
EDUCATION AND TRAINING (IMET) AGREEMENT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER.
FINALLY, THE PACOM COMMANDER OBSERVED THAT VIETNAM HAS EXPERTISE
TO OFFER WORLDWIDE PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS AND THAT VIETNAM WOULD BE
A WELCOME PARTICIPANT IN ONGOING OPERATIONS IN IRAQ AND
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

MEETINGS
--------------------------------------------- --------------------

3. LIEUTENANT GENERAL NGUYEN DUC ((SOAT)), DEPUTY CHIEF OF
GENERAL STAFF, WAS THE HOST FOR ADMIRAL THOMAS ((FARGO)). ADM
FARGO'S ITINERARY INCLUDED A VISIT TO THE NATIONAL DEFENSE
ACADEMY AND CALLS WITH VICE MINISTER OF DEFENSE AND CHIEF OF
GENERAL STAFF, COLONEL GENERAL PHUNG QUANG ((THANH)); COMMANDER,
SEVENTH MILITARY REGION, LIEUTENANT GENERAL NGUYEN VAN ((CHIA));
AND 94 YEAR-OLD, SENIOR GENERAL VO NGUYEN GIAP. AT THE DANANG
NAVAL BASE, ADM FARGO WAS HOSTED BY SENIOR CAPTAIN PHAM NGOC
((MINH)), COMMANDER, THIRD NAVAL REGION IN AN HISTORIC VISIT
MARKED BY THE FIRST TOUR OF VIETNAMESE NAVY VESSELS BY AN
AMERICAN MILITARY OFFICER.

4. THE VISIT BEGAN WITH THE NATIONAL DEFENSE ACADEMY IN HANOI.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL NGUYEN THE ((TRI)), DIRECTOR, NATIONAL DEFENSE
ACADEMY, WELCOMED AND PRESENTED A SHORT BRIEFING OF THE ACADEMY.
ADM FARGO DELIVERED A SPEECH TO THE 20 FACULTY AND STAFF IN
ATTENDANCE HIGHLIGHTING THE NEED FOR MULTILATERAL SOLUTIONS TO
TRANSNATIONAL PROBLEMS AFFECTING SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE ASIA-
PACIFIC REGION, LIKE TERRORISM, NARCOTICS, THE PROLIFERATION AND
SHIPMENT OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, THE TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN
AND CHILDREN, AND PIRACY.

5. GENERAL SOAT, SERVING AS HOST FOR THE VISIT, WELCOMED ADM
FARGO AND HIGHLIGHTED THAT THE VISIT BY DEFENSE MINISTER ((TRA))
TO THE U.S. AND THE SHIP VISIT TO HO CHI MINH CITY BY THE USS
VANDEGRIFT WERE IMPORTANT MILESTONES IN THE US IETNAM DEFENSE
RELATIONSHIP. SOAT ALSO NOTED THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM WILL
INVITE THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, GENERAL
((MYERS)) TO VISIT VIETNAM THIS YEAR. IN ADDITION, SOAT
CONTINUED, WE WELCOME SHIP VISITS AND CONTINUED COOPERATION IN
DEMINING AND THE REMOVAL OF UXO. HOWEVER, HE SAID, VIETNAM NEEDS
"BETTER TECHNOLOGY IN DEMINING."

6. ADM FARGO RAISED THE IDEA TO BEGIN COOPERATION IN
COUNTERNARCOTICS. THIS IS A GROWING PROBLEM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
AND VIETNAM, FARGO NOTED, AND AN AREA IN WHICH PACOM HAS SOME
EXPERTISE AND CAN ASSIST. IN FACT, FARGO EXPLAINED, THE JOINT
INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE EST (JIATF-WEST) IS AN AGENCY PACOM HAS
USED IN OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE REGION, MOST NOTABLY THAILAND, AND
THEY ARE VERY EFFECTIVE IN IMPROVING THE POLICE AND MILITARY'S
CAPABILITIES IN FIGHTING THIS PROBLEM. SOAT NOTED THAT VIETNAM
COOPERATES WITH OTHER COUNTRIES IN THIS AREA AND WELCOMED
PURSUING WAYS TO COOPERATE WITH THE U.S.

7. COMMENTING ON THE AGENT ORANGE ISSUE, SOAT NOTED THAT U.S.
VIETNAM COOPERATION WAS AGREED TO DURING THE VISIT BY THEN-
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ((COHEN)) TO VIETNAM IN 2000 AND DURING THE

SIPDIS
VISIT BY DEFENSE MINISTER TRA TO SECRETARY ((RUMSFELD)). SEVERAL
DAYS BEFORE ADM FARGO'S VISIT, SOAT STATED, MOD PRESENTED TO THE
DAO IN HANOI A PLAN TO COOPERATE IN THE REMEDIATION OF DIOXINS AT
FOUR SITES: BIEN HOA, DANANG AND PHU CAT AIRFIELDS AND CUU MONG
PASS. SOAT STRESSED THAT VIETNAM HOPED FOR COOPERATION WITH THE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. ADM FARGO STATED WE WOULD LOOK AT
THIS PLAN.

8. ADM FARGO NOTED THAT VIETNAM IS RECOGNIZED FOR ITS CAPABILITY
IN CERTAIN AREAS AND COULD MAKE SOME SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO
THE INTERNATIONAL EFFORT IN PEACEKEEPING. SOAT DID NOT DIRECTLY
RESPOND, BUT DID NOT BACK AWAY OR REJECT THE PROPOSAL OF
VIETNAM'S PARTICIPATION IN THIS AREA.

9. IN THE AREA OF POW/MIA RECOVERY, SOAT QUICKLY NOTED THAT THIS
IS CONSIDERED A HUMANITARIAN EFFORT THAT WILL CONTINUE TO BE
SUPPORTED BY VIETNAM. HE NOTED THAT, RECOVERIES ARE NOW IN MORE
REMOTE AREAS, AND THIS WILL REQUIRE MORE FUNDING. SOAT
ADDITIONALLY NOTED THAT VIETNAM'S MISSING ARE IN EXCESS OF
300,000 AND REQUESTED ASSISTANCE IN INFORMATION THAT COULD LEAD
TO THE RECOVERY OF THESE REMAINS. ADM FARGO NOTED THAT THE US
WILL ASSIST VIETNAM IN THIS AREA.

10. ADDITIONALLY, FARGO STRESSED, THE USG NEEDS VIETNAMESE
ASSISTANCE IN ARCHIVAL RESEARCH AND BILATERAL EFFORTS TO RECOVER
UNDERWATER REMAINS OF AMERICAN MIA'S. REFERRING TO UNDERWATER
RECOVERIES, ADM FARGO PRESENTED SOAT WITH A PHOTO OF THE TYPE OF
SALVAGE SHIP THAT PACOM IS PROPOSING TO USE IN THE JOINT RECOVERY
OF US REMAINS UNDERWATER. ADDITIONALLY, FARGO RECOMMENDED THAT
THERE BE A BILATERAL WORKING GROUP ESTABLISHED TO SPECIFICALLY
LOOK AT WAYS TO JOINTLY ADDRESS THIS IMPORTANT EFFORT. FARGO
PROPOSED SENDING VIETNAMESE EXPERTS TO PACOM TO INSPECT THE US
SALVAGE SHIP AND TRAIN WITH US SALVAGE EXPERTS, FOLLOWED BY
CONDUCTING A JOINT US/VIETNAM SALVAGE RECOVERY WITH BOTH
VIETNAMESE AND US NAVY SALVAGE SHIPS. SOAT INITIALLY RESPONDED
THAT, "AS YOU KNOW, THE EAST SEA (I.E. SOUTH CHINA SEA) IS A
VERY SENSITIVE AREA." HE ALSO REITERATED THAT IF THE VIETNAMESE
SHIP IS NOT CAPABLE, THE US CAN PROVIDE TECHNICAL IMPROVEMENTS
FOR THE VIETNAMESE SHIP. HE MADE CLEAR THAT THE NEXT STEP SHOULD
BE A VIETNAMESE SHIP, POSSIBLY AUGMENTED WITH US EQUIPMENT,
SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER REMAINS. THIS TOPIC WAS CLOSED BY BOTH
SOAT AND FARGO AGREEING TO FORM A BILATERAL WORKING GROUP OF
EXPERTS TO LOOK AT UNDERWATER RECOVERY COOPERATION.

11. COLONEL GENERAL PHUNG QUANG THANH WAS THE MOST SENIOR DEFENSE
OFFICIAL VISITED. (COMMENT: MOD PROVIDED AN ITINERARY THAT
INCLUDED A CALL WITH DEFENSE MINISTER SENIOR GENERAL PHAM VAN
TRA. UNFORTUNATELY, HE WAS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE DAY OF THE CALL
AFTER THE PRIME MINISTER SUDDENLY DEPLOYED MEMBERS OF THE CABINET
THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY TO MONITOR THE NATIONAL RESPONSE TO AVIAN
FLU.) GENERAL THANH HIGHLIGHTED FOR ADM FARGO THAT THE U.S.-
VIETNAMESE DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP HAD IMPROVED GREATLY IN 2003 WITH
THE VISIT TO THE U.S. BY DEFENSE MINISTER PHAM VAN TRA AND THE
VISIT TO VIETNAM BY THE USS VANDEGRIFT. THANH ADDED, "I HOPE WE
WILL WORK TOGETHER TO COOPERATE TO BUILD" THE RELATIONSHIP
FURTHER.

12. IMET. IN DISCUSSING THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION AND
TRAINING (IMET) PROGRAM, ADM FARGO INDICATED THAT VIETNAM MUST
SIGN THE THIRD PARTY TRANSFER AGREEMENT, REFERRED TO AS THE 505
AGREEMENT OF THE FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT, BEFORE IT IS ELIGIBLE TO
PARTICIPATE IN IMET-RELATED TRAINING. THANH COMMENTED THE IMET
AGREEMENT WILL TAKE MUCH MORE TIME TO APPROVE, BUT STRESSED THAT
ENGLISH TRAINING WITHOUT IMET IS VERY WELCOMED. GENERAL THANH
COMMENTED THAT AUSTRALIA AND INDIA PROVIDE ENGLISH TRAINING, BUT
THIS REMAINS THE AREA THAT MOST INHIBITS VIETNAM'S MILITARY FROM
FULLER PARTICIPATION IN REGIONAL DEFENSE ACTIVITIES. ADM FARGO
NOTED THAT THIS IS AN AREA WE CAN COOPERATE IN ASSURED GENERAL
THANH THAT PACOM WILL LOOK INTO DEVELOPING AND ENGLISH TRAINING
PROGRAM THAT CAN TRAIN 30-35 STUDENTS ANNUALLY. THANH WAS VERY
SUPPORTIVE OF THIS INITIATIVE.

13. COUNTERTERRORISM AND COUNTERNARCOTICS COOPERATION. ADM
FARGO OBSERVED THAT THE U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND AND VIETNAM SHOULD
BEGIN COOPERATION IN COUNTERTERRORISM AND COUNTERNARCOTICS.
GENERAL THANH NOTED THAT BOTH OF THESE AREAS WERE NOT UNDER THE
PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MOD, BUT RATHER UNDER THE MINISTRY
OF PUBLIC SECURITY (MPS). THANH WELCOMED COOPERATION IN
COUNTERTERRORISM. HE INDICATED THAT VIETNAM WAS ON HIGH ALERT
FOR TERRORISTS, BUT "SINCE VIETNAM HAS LITTLE EXPERIENCE IN THIS
AREA," ASSISTANCE WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

14. THANH STATED THAT FOR COUNTERNARCOTICS WORK, MOD USES THE
BORDER GUARD FORCES, WHO HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED TO WORK WITH MPS TO
FIGHT THIS PROBLEM. ADM FARGO INDICATED THAT PACOM CAN DEPLOY
THE JOINT INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE EST (JIATF-WEST) TO WORK WITH
VIETNAMESE MILITARY AND POLICE IN FIGHTING THE PROLIFERATION OF
NARCOTICS. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAS WORKED VERY WELL IN OTHER
SOUTHEAST ASIA COUNTRIES LIKE THAILAND AND "I THINK WILL ALSO
WORK WELL IN VIETNAM," ADM FARGO NOTED. THANH COMMENTED AGAIN
THAT THIS WAS AN AREA THAT WAS PRIMARILY UNDER THE
RESPONSIBILITY` OF MPS.

15. LIEUTENANT GENERAL CHIA. GENERAL CHIA WARMLY GREETED ADM
FARGO, HIGHLIGHTING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VISIT TO THE US BY
DEFENSE MINISTER TRA AND THE US NAVY SHIP VISIT TO HO CHI MINH
CITY. CHIA RECALLED THAT DEFENSE MINISTER TRA AND SECRETARY
RUMSFELD SPOKE OF CONTINUED SUPPORT IN THE POW/MIA EFFORT AND IN
THE DEMINING/UXO REMOVAL PROGRAM. CHIA LAMENTED THAT TO DATE,
USG ASSISTANCE IN HUMANITARIAN DEMINING/UXO REMOVAL HAD BEEN
LIMITED TO THE CENTRAL PROVINCES OF QUANG BINH AND THUA THIEN HUE
AND HOPED THAT THIS PROGRAM CAN ADDRESS A SERIOUS UXO PROBLEM IN
THE SOUTH. IT WAS NOTED BY AMBASSADOR THAT IT WAS, IN FACT NOT
THE DECISION OF USG TO LIMIT THE DEMINING/UXO REMOVAL PROGRAM,
BUT RATHER THE VIETNAM NATIONAL GOVERNMENT. CHIA CONTINUED THAT
THE LOCATIONS OF FORMER US MILITARY BASES WERE STILL VERY
CONTAMINATED WITH UXO AND THIS WAS LIMITING COMMERCIAL AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. CHIA STRESSED THAT, IN ADDITION TO THE
PROGRAMS ALREADY UNDERWAY; THERE SHOULD BE EXCHANGES OF MID AND
JUNIOR-LEVEL OFFICERS AS A WAY TO BETTER DEVELOP THE DEFENSE
RELATIONSHIP. ADM FARGO NOTED THAT WE CAN SHARE OUR BEST
PRACTICES IN DEMINING.

16. ADM FARGO ASKED CHIA ABOUT THE SECURITY SITUATION ALONG
SEVENTH MILITARY REGION'S CAMBODIAN BORDER. CHIA RESPONDED THAT
THE 615-KILOMETER BORDER WITH CAMBODIA IS SECURE. THERE WERE
INSTANCES 10 YEARS AGO WHEN SOME PEOPLE TRIED TO TRANSPORT
WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES ACROSS THE BORDER, BUT THE MILITARY IN
CONJUNCTION WITH THE BORDER GUARD PREVENTED THIS FROM HAPPENING.
CHIA NOTED, "IN THE PAST 10 YEARS THERE HAVE BEEN NO CASES OF
TRANSPORTING WEAPONS OR EXPLOSIVES ACROSS THE BORDER," THANKS TO
A TRADITIONALLY GOOD RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE BORDER GUARDS AND
THE MILITARY.

17. WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE PROLIFERATION OF MANPADS, CHIA RESPONDED
THAT, IN VIETNAM WE ARE NOT WORRIED ABOUT SUCH LARGE WEAPONS, BUT
WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT SMALLER WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES.

18. IN DANANG ADM FARGO MET WITH THE COMMANDER OF THE THIRD NAVAL
REGION, SENIOR CAPTAIN PHAM NGOC MINH ALONG WITH HIS EXTENDED
STAFF. DISCUSSIONS INCLUDED THE MISSION OF NAVAL REGION THREE
AND THE NAVAL BASE IN DANANG. THIS CORDIAL MEETING WAS FOLLOWED
BY A FIRST TIME TOUR OF SRV NAVY PATROL BOATS BY US MILITARY
PERSONNEL. THE TOUR INCLUDED A ((TURYA)) CLASS FAST ATTACK
TORPEDO CRAFT, AND AN ((OSA II)) CLASS FAST ATTACK MISSILE CRAFT.
ADM FARGO WAS GREETED BY EACH BOAT'S CREW AND GIVEN A BRIEF TOUR,
WITH THE CAPTAIN OF EACH BOAT ANSWERING QUESTIONS DURING THE
TOUR. THE TOUR WAS FOLLOWED BY A THIRD NAVAL REGION SPONSORED
LUNCH WITH ADM FARGO AND HIS STAFF.
19. ADMIRAL FARGO HELD A SYMBOLIC, BUT IMPORTANT VISIT WITH
SENIOR GENERAL VO NGUYEN GIAP. THE DISCUSSION BETWEEN ADM FARGO
AND GENERAL GIAP WAS DOMINATED BY EMPHASIS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF
THE BILATERAL DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP. ACCESS TO 94 YEAR-OLD
GENERAL GIAP IS GUARDED CLOSELY BY THE GVN. AFTER COMMENTING HE
HAD RECEIVED REPORTS THE VISIT HAD RECEIVED "GOOD RESULTS",
GIAP RAISED TWO AREAS IA AND AGENT ORANGE COOPERATION. GIAP
STATED THAT VIETNAM IS COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING THE UNITED STATES
IN THE SEARCH FOR MISSING IN ACTION CASES AND ASKED FOR HELP IN
LOCATING VIETNAM'S MISSING. IN TALKING ABOUT AGENT ORANGE, GIAP
COMMENTED THAT THIS ISSUE HAS A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON OUR
RELATIONSHIP AND HE STATED, "I WELCOME CONSIDERATION OF US HELP
IN THIS AREA". IN DEVELOPING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS GIAP NOTED IT
IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE VIETNAMESE PEOPLE HAVE A BETTER
UNDERSTANDING OF AMERICANS AND VICE VERSA. (COMMENTS: IT WAS
CLEAR GIAP WAS A STRONG SUPPORTED OF US N RELATIONS.)

COMMENTS

20. THE VISIT OF ADM FARGO WAS MARKED BY A POSITIVE TONE AND
WILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE THAT HAS NOT BEEN EVIDENT IN PREVIOUS
VISITS WITH THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE. CLEARLY, ACCESS TO DANANG
NAVAL BASE AND SENIOR GENERAL GIAP, THOUGH LARGELY SYMBOLIC, WERE
CONSIDERED TO BE SIGNS OF A CLOSER DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP AND ARE
INDICATIVE OF THE STATE OF THE WARMING BILATERAL MIL-TO-MIL
RELATIONSHIP. IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE VISIT ARE THE
COMMITMENTS TO COOPERATE, ESPECIALLY ON COUNTERTERRORISM,
COUNTERNARCOTICS, DEMINING AND UXO REMOVAL, AND POW/MIA RECOVERY.
BURGHARDT

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