Cablegate: Dasd Jennings' Meetings with Senior Gvn Officials

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. In meetings with a range of GVN leaders
in Hanoi and HCMC, DASD Jennings and staff reached agreement
on the archival research initiative; assessed positively the
utility of continuing the wartime leaders interview
initiative; reiterated USG priority for underwater recovery
operations, with technical details to be worked out by both
sides in the coming months; and received authorization to
visit the Central Highlands to explore recovery operations
there. He presented additional USG information on missing
PAVN soldiers. GVN officials reiterated strong support for
continued and enhanced cooperation on MIAs, and indicated
clearly that they would look favorably on requests for new
recovery operations in the Central Highlands. End Summary.

Hanoi/HCMC schedule

2. (U) DASD Jerry Jennings and staff held a series of
separate meetings in Hanoi June 14 and 15 with senior GVN
leaders, including:
-- Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung;
-- Deputy Foreign Minister Le Van Bang;
-- Deputy Minister of Defense Colonel General Nguyen Huy
-- Vice Minister of Public Security Lt. General Nguyen Van
-- Assistant Foreign Minister Nguyen Duc Hung;
-- Vice Chairperson of the National Assembly's Foreign
Affairs Committee Ton Nu Thi Ninh; and,
-- National Deputy Chairman of Vietnam Veterans Association
Tran Hanh.

3. (U) DASD Jennings met with the following officials in
HCMC on June 16:
-- Brigadier General Nguyen Van Be, Deputy Commander of
Military Region (MR) 7;
-- Senior Colonel Vu Ngoc Tuyen, Commander of the 125th
Navy Brigade;
-- Ambassador Ha Van Lau, former Vice Minister of Foreign
Affairs; and,
-- Dr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, First Vice Chairman of the HCMC
People's Committee.

4. (U) DASD Jennings' delegation consisted of:
-- Ms. Melinda Cooke, senior policy director for POW/Missing
Personnel Office (DPMO), DOD;
-- LtCol. Phuong Pierson, policy advisor, DPMO;
-- Gary Sydow, director of research and analysis for DPMO;
-- SFC Gary Grisdale, ADMIN NCO, DPMO;
-- Ronald Ward, interpreter, Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command, PACOM.
A/DCM Bellard and Navy/Marine Attache Etnyre accompanied on
calls with the senior GVN officials in Hanoi.

USG Message

5. (U) DASD Jennings' main message focused on:
-- Archival research initiative: while expressing his
personal opinion that no GVN officials were deliberately
withholding information from their files, DASD Jennings
noted that often officials may not know exactly what is in
their files, and therefore a thorough review of files from
the central to the local levels was an important next step.
After negotiations with VNOSMP staff, the two sides on June
15 reached agreement on this project, which will not only
permit access to MOD files related to POW/MIAs at all levels
but leave open the possibility of access to files of the
Office of the Prime Minister, MFA, and MPS, should leads
develop to those organizations;
-- Wartime leaders initiative: DASD Jennings reiterated
the importance of continuing this initiative and welcomed
senior GVN support for this project, as had been signaled
clearly two years ago by General Vo Nguyen Giap himself.
DASD Jennings conducted two such interviews during this
visit (septel);
-- Underwater recovery initiative: DASD Jennings noted the
importance of this effort not only to recovering US remains
but also in helping the GVN identify crash sites of
Vietnamese planes, which could possibly lead to the recovery
of Vietnamese KIAs. Vietnam had also lost planes over
water, and the US would be willing to share technology and
information. He noted that technical talks, led on the US
side by PACOM under Admiral Fargo, were continuing, and he
expressed confidence in reaching agreement by year's end.
He noted, however, that the Vietnamese vessels he had
visited did not/not have sufficient deck space for major
recovery operations. He reminded his GVN interlocutors that
the two sides had conducted four earlier joint underwater
recovery operations, once with success (two sets of
remains), and highlighted the importance of moving forward
on this cooperation;
-- Central Highlands: Noting that our teams had not had
access to this area since 2002, DASD Jennings requested
permission to resume operations there. VMPS Huong welcomed
DASD Jennings to go anywhere in this area anytime he liked,
"even tomorrow." Vice DefMin Hieu, however, cited some
security concerns due to the remote locations. DASD
Jennings indicated that he would like to make a first visit
in late July before the four-nation conference in Siem Reap.

6. (U) Additionally, DASD Jennings presented US
documentation about PAVN losses and possible recovery
opportunities to DPM Dung, Vice DefMin Hieu, and VFM Bang,
all of whom welcomed this latest assistance from the USG.
He also described the upcoming conference in Siem Reap
involving MIA officials from the U.S., Cambodia, Vietnam,
and Laos, to exchange experiences and to look for ways to
enhance cooperation. GVN interlocutors indicated their
willingness to participate, as in 2003. DASD Jennings also
noted the important occasions he will have in August 2004
when speaking to US veterans groups like the American Legion
to highlight Vietnamese cooperation on MIAs, especially the
new agreement on archival research.

GVN responses

7. (U) DPM Dung expressed GVN appreciation for USG
cooperation, particularly the latest information presented
about PAVN losses. He reiterated the consistent policy of
the GVN to treat the search for MIAs as a "humanitarian
issue," and the GVN's willingness to do "everything in its
power" to ensure effective cooperation. He noted that,
"frankly, we do not want US remains left in Vietnam." He
wished success for the new archival research initiative. He
urged use of a Vietnamese Navy ship for underwater recovery,
with possible additional US equipment. He called for more
US assistance, also on a humanitarian basis, on unexploded
ordinance and for victims of Agent Orange, including clean
up of some major sites near Danang and Thanh Hoa.

8. (U) VFM Bang voiced support for the major initiatives,
while noting that the Vietnamese Army did not want a US Navy
vessel to conduct the underwater recovery operations,
preferring a Vietnamese vessel or a third country vessel.
He promised that the GVN wanted to "work with you better,"
while admitting that this was a "sensitive time,"
particularly due to US elections. He promised that the MFA
would continue to "push the envelope" to achieve even
greater cooperation on MIAs.

9. (U) VMPS Huong noted that MPS had been involved in MIA
searches for 14 years now and that this "final stage" was
the "most difficult." He reiterated GVN policy to
"cooperate fully." He expressed support for DASD Jennings'
initiatives, while pointing to MPS' earlier archival
searches, the results of which had already been transferred
to MOD and then to the U.S. He noted that using a
Vietnamese vessel equipped with US technology in the South
China Seas was "better" because it had "no implications for
any other country." He promised to "create favorable
conditions" for DASD Jennings' visit to the Central
Highlands, "even tomorrow," and said the GVN was "ready" to
facilitate once the two sides agreed on the location,
timing, etc.

10. (U) Vice DefMin Hieu promised that the GVN and MOD
would do the "utmost" to resolve the MIA issue, while urging
the USG "take responsibility" to "lessen suffering" caused
by unexploded ordinance and Agent Orange. He expressed
appreciation for USG goodwill in presenting additional
information about PAVN losses. He insisted that Vietnamese
ships were adequate for underwater recovery operations, but
welcomed possible additional US-provided equipment, such as
had been provided for UXO searches. He promised MOD support
for visits to the Central Highlands, while noting that these
would have to be planned on a step-by-step basis given
"safety" considerations; remote locations and lack of
medical evacuation options could make such efforts

11. (U) DASD Jennings briefed officials in HCMC on his
meetings in Hanoi, and they pledged continued cooperation
with his four major initiatives. Brigadier General Be
gratefully accepted US archival materials on Vietnamese
wartime losses from DASD Jennings, noting that such
information had led to the recovery of significant numbers
of Vietnamese KIAs in the past. Senior Colonel Tuyen noted
that his command was still awaiting the necessary GVN
permissions it needed to provide a vessel for underwater
search and recovery operations, but promised to work closely
with DASD Jennings in resolving any technical issues and
identifying an appropriate Vietnamese vessel. He reaffirmed
the invitation for US Navy technical experts to view his
sailors in action, and appreciated DASD Jennings' offer to
follow up on the status of technical assessment reports.
Dr. Nhan noted that the agreement on archival research
reflected a high degree of mutual trust between the two

12. (U) Comment: While not explicitly authorizing
resumption of recovery operations by JPAC teams in the
Central Highlands -- in contrast to a clear blessing for a
visit by DASD Jennings -- GVN officials gave clear
indications that they would likely look favorably on at
least some specific requests for such operations on a case
by case basis. End comment.

13. (U) This message has been cleared by DASD Jennings'

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