Cablegate: Vietnam - Dcm Meeting with Consular Department

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
SUBJECT: Vietnam - DCM Meeting with Consular Department

1.(U) Summary. The Deputy Chief of Mission's introductory
call on Bui Dinh Dinh, Director of the MFA's Consular
Department, on June 29 provided both sides an opportunity to
raise a number of substantive bilateral consular issues.
The GVN highlighted repatriation of deportable aliens,
reopening of humanitarian resettlement programs, and
Consular access and notification as significant consular
issues to be worked on by our two governments. DCM
requested the Consular Department focus on the recent death
penalty case of AmCit John Nguyen and requested a response
to our latest draft of the Protocol concerning adoptions.
He also highlighted USG concerns over a recent GVN decision
to suspend issuance of visas to USG officials because the
travel of a GVN official was delayed due to clearance
procedures and requested that GVN officials submit visa
applications in advance to allow time for necessary
clearances. The GVN also flagged a number of political
issues, including the cases of two individuals in the U.S.
who the GVN believes are involved in "inciting terrorism"
and the display of the flag of the former Republic of South
Vietnam, as obstacles to trust in the U.S.-GVN relations.

2. (U) On June 29, 2004, newly arrived Deputy Chief of
Mission John Boardman paid a courtesy call on the Director
of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Bui Dinh Dinh. The discussion went beyond simple
courtesies and touched on a number of substantive bilateral
consular and political issues.

Key Bilateral Consular Issues and Consular Access and
--------------------------------------------- ----------

3. (U) After initial introductions, DCM Boardman asked Dinh
to outline his priority bilateral consular issues. Dinh
listed repatriation of deportable aliens, reopening the
humanitarian resettlement programs, and consular access and
notification. (Comment: Dinh appeared unprepared for the
question. While his response seemed to be off-the-cuff and
may not represent an official GVN prioritization, it is
notable that the GVN recognizes the importance we place on
these three issues and would include them in such an
impromptu listing. End Comment.)

4. (U) DCM pursued the issue of Consular Access and
Notification, particularly as they relate to dual
nationality. Dinh explained that since dual nationality is
not recognized in Vietnam, the GVN refers to U.S./Vietnamese
nationals as "Vietnamese citizens holding American
passports." He noted that since the Agreed Minute of 1994
regarding consular relations was signed at "lower levels"
(by the Director of the Americas Department, rather than at
the Minister-level or higher), other ministries such as the
Ministry of Public Security do not view the Agreed Minute as

Visa Wars

5. (U) DCM raised his concerns about the recent GVN
decision to "embargo" visas for official USG travelers in
direct response to the delayed travel of a GVN official (due
to the necessity of Visas Eagle clearance.) He explained
the role played in visa policy establishment played by the
Department of Homeland Security and the role played by other
USG agencies in the visa clearance procedures. DCM also
clarified that withholding visas for USG officials has no
impact on DHS or other agencies involved in the clearance
process, and thus is not an effective response. DCM
strongly reiterated the request that visa applications for
GVN officials be submitted early enough to allow for the
required clearances. He also invited the GVN to contact us
any time a delay in clearance causes difficulties.

6. (U) Dinh described the pressure he was under from other,
more senior officials every time the issuance of a U.S. visa
for a GVN official was delayed. He asked for more specific
details on when clearances are required, and when they can
be waived. ConOff briefly described the categories of
applicants for which Visas Eagle is required in Vietnam.
(Note: The GVN has repeatedly requested that GVN officials
be exempted from clearance and US VISIT fingerscanning
procedures. Consular section will follow up to provide
clarification of the clearance process and urge that a
spirit of cooperation between the two sides --GVN
submitting applications sooner and USG explaining and
expediting clearances where possible -- is the best road
forward. End Note.)


7. (U) When reminded of the adoptions Protocol and asked
when we might expect a response, Dinh responded that the
Protocol was still under consideration by the Ministry of

John Nguyen Death Penalty Case

8. (U) Regarding American Citizen John Nguyen, who was
sentenced to death in Ho Chi Minh City for drug trafficking
on June 16, 2004, Dinh was unaware of the details. DCM
flagged the USG interest in the case and asked that requests
for leniency from Mr. Nguyen and his family be given
appropriate consideration. DCM also asked for clarification
of the specific charges under which Mr. Nguyen was found
guilty and stated that the Embassy planned to send a
diplomatic note to the Consular Department regarding this

Political Issues - Kok Ksor, Nguyen Huu Chanh, and Flags
--------------------------------------------- -----------

9. (U) Dinh commented that consular relations and the
broader relationship between the United States and Vietnam
were going "quite well." However, he highlighted two
"obstacles to trust" and the furtherance of that
relationship. The GVN has raised Kok Ksor, as reported in
ref A, and Nguyen Huu Chanh, ref B, previously. Dinh
claimed that Kok Ksor's efforts to organize the Montagnard
uprising in the Central Highlands in April amounted to
"inciting terrorism." He also claimed that Nguyen Huu Chanh,
as leader of the Free Vietnam Movement (a.k.a. Free Vietnam
Alliance) worked to "incite terrorist acts" in Vietnam,
Thailand, and the Philippines. Dinh argued that the U.S.
speaks out often against terrorism, but does nothing to stop
terrorists living in the U.S. from conducting terrorist
acts. He said this issue affected "trust" between our two
governments. DCM responded that the USG does not support
terrorism in any form and assured Dinh that the USG would
follow up if presented with evidence that these two
individuals had committed acts of terrorism or otherwise
violate US law.

10. (U) Finally, Dinh highlighted GVN concerns regarding
the decision of some local U.S. authorities to allow display
of the flag of the former Republic of South Vietnam. He
noted that display of this flag provokes animosity against
the GVN within the U.S. DCM responded that the GVN should
not give too much importance to this issue. Private
individuals and local authorities in the U.S. can act
independently, but it is the federal government that
conducts foreign relations and establishes official USG
policy. He added that it is the responsibility of the GVN,
not the USG, to improve relations and reduce any sense of
animosity in the ethnic Vietnamese communities in the U.S.
and elsewhere.

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