Cablegate: A/S Taylor Discusses Security and Cooperation With

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. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting March 10 with visiting
Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Frank Taylor,
Ministry of Public Security (MPS) Vice Minister Nguyen Van
Huong said he wanted to see closer cooperation between MPS
and the Embassy, including formal communication channels for
CT and law enforcement information. He repeatedly praised
U.S.-Vietnam intelligence and information exchanges, noting
that the GVN had carefully reviewed all U.S.-provided threat
information and found it to be useful. Huong noted U.S.-
Vietnam cooperation on law enforcement issues and said that
it was time to lay out a mechanism to make cooperation
better and more effective. A/S Taylor and Huong also
discussed the surveillance detection (SD) program and the
security of Vietnamese diplomats and official visitors in
the U.S. End summary.


2. (SBU) In response to Ambassador Taylor's statement that
the U.S. appreciated the greater cooperation demonstrated by
the exchange of information on security issues, MPS VM Huong
said that, until now, the exchanges of information had been
unofficial, or else had been sent through "excessively
bureaucratic" channels. Huong said the U.S. normally sent
the information under the cover of a diplomatic note to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which then sent it to MPS.
This was inefficient, Huong complained, noting that MPS
"usually" received untimely, incomplete information by this
method. When the information was late, he noted, it was
impossible to act on, which was unfortunate because some of
the information was "interesting and important." For
example, he said, the GVN greatly appreciated information on
Islamic organizations that had transferred money into
Vietnam. In response, Huong said he had directed MPS to
share information directly with the Embassy, especially when
the information related to threats to U.S. or other
diplomatic interests. [Note: Embassy already has a direct
channel to MPS for counterterrorism/threat information. RSO
frequently passes information directly to MPS'
Counterterrorism office, and RSO and the MPS CT office have
a "hotline" established to exchange urgent information. It
is unclear what deficiencies Huong was referring to, since
very little information of this nature, except concerning
financial activities of terrorists, has actually been passed
through MFA since 2002. End note.]

3. (SBU) Huong suggested establishing a direct, official
channel between the Embassy and MPS, and proposed that the
conduits for information be the RSO office in the Embassy
and the General Criminal Department at MPS. One way in
particular MPS would like to work with the U.S. was on
checking up on companies transferring large amounts of money
into Vietnam, Huong added. As a second step after
establishing a formal channel between MPS and the Embassy,
Huong said it was essential for the Embassy and MPS to work
together on contingencies involving an attack on U.S.
facilities in Vietnam. Huong noted that he thought the
prospect of an attack on U.S. facilities in Vietnam
unlikely, but said it would be valuable to determine
specifically what the U.S. would need from MPS in various
attack scenarios and what roles the U.S. and MPS would play
in responding to an attack.

4. (SBU) Ambassador Taylor noted that the meeting itself
demonstrated the growing strength of the U.S.-Vietnam
relationship. He added that he appreciated the "excellent
security" MPS provided to U.S. diplomatic properties and
persons in Vietnam, and hoped the U.S. and Vietnam would be
able to develop the relationship further. Terrorism, he
said, is a phenomenon greater than just two nations, and the
exchange of information was important to the U.S. and all
its partners in the war on terrorism. Huong agreed, and
added that in the area of counterterrorism, "the U.S. and
Vietnam speak the same language." He praised "the United
States' important role in the fight against terrorism" and
rejected any possible suggestion that Vietnam did not
actively support the U.S. in the war on terrorism.

5. (SBU) VM Huong noted that Ambassador Taylor's visit was
"well timed" to occur when there was such an improvement in
bilateral relations. Huong said that while the U.S. and
Vietnam had many areas of active ongoing cooperation, law
enforcement cooperation was a "special domain." He added
that the U.S. and Vietnam have "much to do to gain mutual
understanding" on law enforcement cooperation, and said the
two nations should "map out a direction" to improve
cooperation in this area. Ambassador Taylor said relations
between the U.S. and Vietnam were developing, and both sides
were learning how best to work together on counterterrorism
and transnational crime. He said he was "pleased to see the
exchange of information flowing more freely" and hoped to
see that exchange develop more fully between the two


6. (SBU) Ambassador Taylor thanked VM Huong for the
cooperation on security both in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh
City. An important part of the relationship, he stressed,
was full transparency as both sides worked together on
security and combating criminal activity. Ambassador Taylor
acknowledged that MPS had primary responsibility for
security, and that the U.S. must work with MPS in security
situations, but added that the U.S. had a great deal of
experience to share on these issues. He identified the SD
program as one that existed around the world, and said he
wanted to see the program in Vietnam operating transparently
with the cooperation of MPS.

7. (SBU) Huong stated that the GVN took its security
responsibilities extremely seriously, and that when it came
to the security of foreign missions, MPS was experienced and
capable. For years, Huong noted, there had been no
incidents and no threats on diplomats from any source.
Huong said that in 1995, he himself had worked with U.S.
security personnel to secure the new U.S. chancery, and had
worked with U.S. officers again in 2001 to strengthen
security after September 11. Vietnam, he said, had a
different, but still effective, approach to security.
Vietnam is a peaceful place, and putting too many uniformed
guards in front of Embassies paints a "false picture" of the
security situation, he added. MPS attaches importance to
identifying terrorists or anyone else posing a threat to
U.S. interests, and watches over U.S. properties carefully,
he said. One example of this was that when the U.S.
deployed SD personnel in HCMC, they were arrested by MPS
officers who "pay special attention" to U.S. facilities, he
said. "They were easy to spot," he noted.

8. (SBU) MPS did not have any need for additional capacity
in protecting U.S. facilities, Huong continued. Even while
in this meeting, he said, he was in full control of the
security situation at U.S. facilities. For example, he
added, he knew that SD teams were deployed near the Embassy,
even though MPS was in the area and in control. There was
no need for the SD teams, Huong stated. If the situation
were to require a higher level of alert, MPS would consider
using the SD teams. The SD teams were a good idea, he said,
but only when they were truly needed. He also noted that
the Embassy's placement of sandbag-filled shipping
containers in the street in front of the Chancery was "not
in accordance with traffic laws, and unattractive" but MPS
"tolerated" them. He suggested that the Embassy and MPS
should work together to find an alternative to blocking the


9. (SBU) Ambassador Taylor said he appreciated the work MPS
did to keep U.S. personnel and facilities safe, and noted
that DS had the same responsibility for Vietnamese
facilities in the U.S. Huong said he was very concerned
about the situation in San Francisco, where the residence of
a staff member of Vietnamese ConGen had been shot at twice.
Huong said he had heard that the shootings had been
classified as "random" but felt that the issue should be
investigated more closely. Huong said that if the DCM in
Hanoi had been shot at twice, he himself would be in "deep,
deep trouble." Ambassador Taylor told Huong that he had
been told that the shootings were in fact random, but that
he would look into the case and provide a report personally.

10. (SBU) Huong also asked Ambassador Taylor to pay
attention to the security of high-level GVN visitors to the
U.S. In the past, he said, "undesirable groups had done
things to GVN officials, including a deputy prime minister."
Ambassador Taylor said that protecting official visitors was
one of DS' top priorities, and that MPS could assist in that
effort by providing information on potentially disruptive
groups or individuals before the delegations arrived. A/S
Taylor said he would meet with Ambassador Chien to discuss
security issues any time.


11. (SBU) Comment: The atmospherics of the meeting were
formal but friendly. Amb. Taylor and VM Huong both made
much of their mutual law enforcement credentials, with Amb.
Taylor saying they shared "the brotherhood of the badge" and
Huong noting that they "spoke the same language." The
extremely formal MPS main meeting hall format, with the two
sides seated 25 feet apart and speaking through interpreters
over microphones, somewhat limited the give and take.
Despite this, Huong was frank and reiterated the GVN's
desire to move forward on creating cooperation mechanisms
both for security and law enforcement issues. His statement
about wanting to "map out a direction" for how to improve
law enforcement cooperation is another indicator that
Vietnam may be open to creating a framework to allow some
kind of real operational law enforcement cooperation.

12. (SBU) Huong's discussion of extra uniformed guards
presenting a "false picture" of the security situation in
Vietnam is indicative of another basic difference in
Embassy's and MPS' views of security. The Embassy believes
that a public, forceful security presence around U.S.
facilities acts as a deterrent to any potential attack.
MPS, in contrast, prefers a "softer" security presence
because it reinforces their carefully cultivated image of
Vietnam as a safe place to visit and do business. Further
dialog is necessary for Embassy and MPS to resolve this
difference of opinion.

13. (SBU) Huong's comments on the SD program as well as
complaints about the traffic impact of sandbag-filled
containers positioned in front of the Embassy to provide
additional setback were repetitions of previously expressed
MPS views. However, MPS has conspicuously avoided a
confrontation over these issues, allowing them to continue
but noting MPS' preference that they be eliminated.
Embassy's (so far successful) strategy of continuing to try
to raise MPS' comfort level with these necessary measures
without making a formal request for approval is designed to
avoid forcing MPS into a position where it would have to
actively oppose these measures. End comment.

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