Cablegate: Ambassador's August 31 Farewell Call On Dpm Vu

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: Ambassador's August 31 Farewell Call on DPM Vu

1. (SBU) Summary: During his August 31 farewell call on
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan, the Ambassador underlined
the importance of bilateral strategic dialogue and urged
Vietnam to strengthen law enforcement and related
cooperation, take positive steps in the areas of human
rights and religious freedom, make efforts to show American
companies that Vietnam's market was open, and, in the near-
term, respond as soon as possible to our additional WTO
questions to facilitate October bilateral trade talks. The
DPM agreed with the Ambassador about the importance of
strategic dialogue, pledged to talk with the Ministry of
Public Security about law enforcement cooperation, offered
to "pay attention" to special cases of American companies,
underlined the differences between the United States and
Vietnam on human rights and democracy, and called on USTR to
support Vietnam's WTO bid, which would be the biggest
bilateral issue in 2005. The DPM also said Vietnam was
"working hard" to respond to the latest set of U.S.
questions regarding Vietnam's WTO accession. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The Ambassador, accompanied by Pol/C, paid a
farewell call on Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan August 31.
DPM Khoan opened by expressing his regret that the
Ambassador would soon depart and thanking him for nearly
three years of hard work in developing the bilateral
relationship. The DPM credited the Ambassador with helping
to build the legal framework for cooperation in many fields,
such as in counternarcotics, agriculture, and aviation. The
Ambassador had also helped to strengthen economic and trade
relations and defense cooperation between the United States
and Vietnam. Of course, things were not always smooth, as
there were often differences in the two countries' way of
approaching issues. That said, bilateral dialogue had
helped to stabilize the relationship and further "great
efforts" were needed to continue to build ties between the
two countries. The DPM expressed his hope that, in the
Ambassador's "new capacity," he would continue to contribute
to Vietnam and its relationship with the United States, and
asked that he convey to the new ambassador the GVN's desire
to continue cooperation.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador expressed his appreciation for the
DPM's sincere desire to work to improve the bilateral
relationship. The United States and Vietnam had made
progress because it was something that both sides had
wanted. Before arriving in Vietnam, the Ambassador had
consulted with senior Department and Congressional
leadership, and they had offered encouragement to continue
the process of normalization with Vietnam. There had been
much progress, but there was also normalization work
remaining for the new ambassador and his team. However,
this was not surprising considering the past history of the
two countries, the Ambassador said.

4. (SBU) 2005 would be an important year because it would
mark the tenth anniversary of normalization, the Ambassador
continued. Many people would use the occasion to examine
the relationship. We hoped to have PM Phan Van Khai visit
the United States in 2005, and we had given the MFA our
thoughts about what could be done to make this a positive
visit. The question of Vietnam's WTO accession would also
loom large in 2005, and with it a Congressional vote on
permanent normal trade relations. This would also be an
occasion to focus on the overall relationship, including,
but not limited to, trade issues. In short, it would be a
challenging year, the Ambassador noted.

5. (SBU) The DPM's own visit to the United States earlier in
the year had been significant, the Ambassador said. His
conversations with the Secretary, APNSA Rice, and DAPNSA
Hadley were good and at the strategic level, covering issues
related to East Asia, China, and the U.S. role in the
region. Even in unofficial meetings, such as with the
Council on Foreign Relations, DPM Khoan had had serious
conversations, and the United States and Vietnam had not
done enough of this in the past. The visit to Vietnam
earlier this year of EAP A/S Kelly had helped to continue
this level of dialogue. People in Washington welcomed this
and were happy that the DPM had been frank regarding
bilateral and other issues. The DPM had helped to spread
the message that Vietnam wished the United States to have a
more active role in Southeast Asia, a message we had also
been hearing from Singapore, the Ambassador observed.

6. (SBU) One concrete area in which we had not seen much
progress, however, was law enforcement cooperation, the
Ambassador said. The counternarcotics agreement was good
for facilitating training and similar forms of cooperation,
but it did not allow for operational cooperation in which
police from both nations worked together. Vietnam's police
were still reluctant to work directly with the United
States, and they seemed to be similarly chary of working
with counterparts from Australia, Germany, and Japan.
Related to this was the issue of intelligence sharing.
Vietnam had initially expressed some interest, and both
sides made some efforts to begin a relationship in this
area, but then these efforts stalled. We hoped that it
would be possible to do good work together in the areas
agreed, such as counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and
trafficking in persons, the Ambassador said.

7. (SBU) In the areas of trade and economics, the
relationship was healthy, the Ambassador noted. However,
issues related to human rights and religious freedom
remained unresolved. This year and next, it would be good
if the GVN could take dramatic and clear actions to respond
to our concerns. Similarly, it would be helpful for both
Vietnam and the bilateral relationship if Vietnam could win
friends among large U.S. companies by showing them that the
door to Vietnam's market was open, such as for VINASAT and
other substantial projects.

8. (SBU) DPM Khoan agreed that bilateral strategic dialogue
was very important, and he hoped that the Department and MFA
could continue this task. If time allowed, the DPM himself
and the Office of the Government were also eager to be
involved. Regarding intelligence sharing and related
efforts, there had been good cooperation in the area of
counterterrorism, but the DPM acknowledged the Ambassador's
view and pledged to talk further with the Ministry of Public
Security about this matter. Democracy and human rights were
two issues about which the United States and Vietnam had
different views, but the two sides should nonetheless
continue their dialogue for better mutual understanding. It
was not a coincidence that the DPM and the GVN had
encouraged many delegations, including National Assembly
dignitaries, to visit the United States. At the same time,
Vietnam gladly welcomed American visitors, such as Senate
staffer Frank Jannuzi. Both sides should encourage such
contacts and dialogue, the DPM urged.

9. (SBU) The DPM agreed that both sides had made good
progress in trade and economic relations, but that they had
also faced some difficulties, which was normal. Although
there was the bilateral trade agreement framework, Vietnam
would nonetheless pay attention to the concerns of U.S.
companies and remain attentive to "special cases," the DPM

10. (SBU) The DPM urged the Ambassador to pass on to USTR
Zoellick Vietnam's hope for U.S. assistance in the WTO
accession process. The Ambassador responded by urging
Vietnam to respond to our most recent set of questions as
soon as possible to facilitate October bilateral talks. The
DPM said that Vietnam was working hard to prepare its
responses. Vietnam recognized that U.S. support was key,
and was ready to go "further and longer" to win this
support. Vietnam did not want the United States to become
an obstacle, particularly now that Vietnam had successfully
made "arrangements" with other countries. The Ambassador
observed that other countries often made their negotiations
easy because they knew the talks with the United States
would be toughest. The DPM agreed, noting that this was the
reason Vietnam paid the most attention to the United States.
WTO accession would be the biggest task in U.S.-Vietnam
relations in 2005, the DPM concluded.

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