Cablegate: Prm Das Kelly Ryan Visit to Vietnam: Humanitarian

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

Sensitive but unclassified. Please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary. PRM Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Ryan
held technical talks in Hanoi with a delegation of GVN officials
to discuss the Humanitarian Resettlement (HR) program, a USG
proposal to accept applications for persons meeting certain
category eligibility under the orderly departure program. The
talks resulted in a signed Minutes of Meeting in which both sides
agreed to the general principles which will guide the
implementation of this program, including both public outreach and
the identification and processing of qualified applicants. The
USG delegation agreed to prepare three documents: a proposed
draft of the initial program announcement; a detailed description
of the overall public outreach strategy to publicize the program;
and a paper on areas of cooperation between the two governments
for the actual processing of applicants. DAS Ryan also visited Ho
Chi Minh City. She met with RRS staff and the Office of External
Relations (ERO). She also met with Sister Pascale Le Thi Triu, a
long-time advocate on behalf of Vietnamese in the Philippines, to
inform her of the impending USG announcement of a resettlement
program for this group. End summary.

2. (SBU) A delegation led by PRM DAS Kelly Ryan, along with
DHS/CIS Chief of the Refugee and Asylum Law Division Molly Groom
and Charge d'Affaires Robert Porter, met March 29-30 with a GVN
delegation headed by MFA Director General of the Consular Division
Mr. Bui Dinh Dinh. The purpose of the talks was to reach
agreement on the technical aspects of implementing the proposed re-
opening of certain Orderly Departure Program (ODP) categories for
a limited period for those persons who through no fault of their
own had failed to apply prior to previous application deadlines.
DAS Ryan's visit was a follow-up to the visit of PRM Assistant
Secretary Gene Dewey in August 2003, during which the GVN agreed

in principle to the re-opening


3. (SBU) In advance of this visit, GVN officials had stressed
they wanted any such re-opening to be cast as a humanitarian
rather than a "refugee" resettlement program. They also expressed
concern that any such program would be disruptive to Vietnamese
society, would raise false hopes and expectations, and generally
went against perceptions that any persons still eligible for the
former ODP programs were now well integrated into Vietnamese
society. These remained key themes throughout the talks, which
were generally cordial in tone. After questioning whether the
program was really necessary, Dinh indicated the GVN could accept
the general outline of the proposed program, including an initial
public outreach campaign, followed by the application and
processing of all persons found to be eligible applicants. The
GVN stressed that the nature of the program should be humanitarian
in nature and advertised as such. They stated there were many
specific questions and concerns to be addressed. While the GVN
was willing to permit a broad public outreach campaign, they
emphasized this could be very disruptive to Vietnamese society and
would falsely raise hopes and expectations of gaining admission to
the program among a large number of ineligible people.

4. (SBU) PRM DAS Ryan thanked Mr. Dinh for the GVN's willingness
to cooperate in this effort. She acknowledged GVN concerns about
how the program would be implemented and indicated a desire to
minimize any potentially negative effect the program may have on
Vietnamese society. She explained the details of the Humanitarian
Resettlement program proposal. She emphasized that the USG goal
is to provide a finite, time-limited opportunity for those people
who would qualify for certain of the original ODP categories, but
had not had an opportunity to apply previously. She stated that
this would not be a new program and remains focused on persons
with pre-1975 ties to the U.S.

5. (SBU) During a free exchange of ideas, both sides agreed in
principle to design a simple, streamlined process based on
fairness and transparency. The GVN emphasized they now have a
policy of permitting open, lawful migration and that all citizens
are now generally entitled to a passport if they have not
disobeyed the law. The USG explained its basic proposal of a six-
month public outreach campaign followed by a two-year application
period. Both sides agreed on the importance of conducting this
information campaign in a manner that stresses its humanitarian
nature and seeks to minimize false expectations, potential
exploitation and fraud. The USG also emphasized the need for the
US to be able to control the screening and eligibility and stated
that we would seek assistance from the GVN on particular cases.
(Note: we would do so in cases in which the GVN would have the
sole or most accurate information.)
6. (SBU) The second day focused on wording in the draft Minutes
and revealed the intensity of GVN concerns that the introduction
of this program and the public outreach campaign will have a
disruptive effect on Vietnamese society, as well as lead to
criticism (unwarranted in their view) of current GVN policies.
They cited negative scenarios based on past experience with USG
refugee programs in Vietnam, claiming that many potential
applicants will resign their jobs, leave school, sell property,
etc. on the expectation of resettlement, and that at the end of
all this disruption, the USG will approve a relatively small
percentage of applicants. They also indicated a high level of
sensitivity, voicing concern the program will be used as
propaganda against the GVN by those outside the country who still
oppose them.

7. (SBU) To deal with some of these sensitivities, the GVN did
not accept the term "Humanitarian Resettlement Program (HRP)"
because the word "program" implied too large a scope. It was
agreed to call it "Humanitarian Resettlement (HR)." The GVN also
expressed concern that six months was too long for the public
outreach program, but finally agreed on "up to six months." The
most contentious language dealt with how to address GVN concerns
the program would be used by unfriendly groups outside of Vietnam
to criticize current policies. In the end, they accepted: "Both
sides agree that HR processing is not related in any way to
current conditions in Vietnam, and does not suggest that persons
applying for HR are experiencing any difficulties with their
government." The GVN then asked the U.S. side to prepare three
documents: a draft of the initial HR announcement; a description
of the ways and means to implement the public information
outreach; and a paper outlining mechanisms for implementing the
program, including areas of cooperation between the two


8. (SBU) During the negotiations for opening the Humanitarian
Resettlement process, DAS Ryan also informed the GVN of plans for
opening a resettlement program in the Philippines for Vietnamese
"long-stayers" there. She pointed to this program as a further
example of the USG efforts to settle some of the long-standing
refugee issues that still exist in Southeast Asia. Mr. Dinh said
this effort was welcomed by the GVN, adding that any program that
helped to resolve the plight of such individuals was useful to our
mutual interest in settling the past issues that lay between our
two countries.

9. (SBU) While in Ho Chi Minh City on April 1, DAS Ryan also met
with Sister Pascale Le Thi Triu, a Vietnamese nun who has been
very active in assisting the Philippines "long-stayers", and who
has advocated permanent residency for many of them in the
Philippines. There was some concern that because of this past
advocacy, Sister Pascale might not welcome the resettlement
program. But in the course of their conversation, she indicated
to DAS Ryan a belief that any such effort to help provide the
Vietnamese "long-stayers" with a durable solution, whether in the
Philippines or in the U.S., was to be welcomed, and she thanked
DAS Ryan for her efforts in helping to resolve this very long-
standing and difficult issue.


10. (SBU) The Mission believes that DAS Ryan's visit to Vietnam
was productive. The GVN has consistently indicated it is willing
to work with the USG on permitting the re-opening of a limited
program based on former ODP refugee categories. At the same time,
they have stressed that circumstances in Vietnam are now very
different than they were even a decade ago, and that the concept
of resettling "refugees" from Vietnam is outdated. They are also
very concerned about how the program will be perceived. As a
result of these sensitivities, we would expect a tough negotiation
over the details of implementation. However, we believe we should
take advantage of the agreement DAS Ryan reached with the GVN in
principle and move forward quickly to provide the requested
information and press for another round of technical talks. We
hope that GVN concerns can be overcome and that the next round
will result in a final agreement on the structure of HR and, if
possible, permission to proceed with the initial phases of the
public outreach information campaign. End comment.

11. (U) PRM DAS Kelly Ryan has cleared this cable.


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