Cablegate: Ambassador's September 3 Farewell Call On General

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

070824Z Sep 04






E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ambassador's September 3 Farewell Call on General
Vo Nguyen Giap

1. (SBU) Summary: During his September 3 farewell call on
General Vo Nguyen Giap, the Ambassador said that, although
much progress had been made over the past three years, much
still remained to be done to normalize fully bilateral ties.
General Giap urged the United States and Vietnam to avoid
"incidents" that could damage the relationship, called on
the United States to assist Vietnam in dealing with Agent
Orange, underlined Vietnam's hope for greater U.S.
assistance in human resources development and in science and
technology, and stressed the importance of the U.S.-Vietnam
relationship for regional peace and security. Giap also
noted that, with the exception of a few Vietnamese-Americans
who had "betrayed" the "homeland," the majority of them
wanted to return to Vietnam, and Vietnam's policy was to
encourage this. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The Ambassador, accompanied by DCM, DATT, and
Pol/C, paid a farewell call September 3 on General Vo Nguyen
Giap, 92, a contemporary of Ho Chi Minh and a hero of the
struggle against France and the United States. Accepting
Giap's invitation to begin, the Ambassador noted that, when
he arrived in Hanoi three years before, there had already
been much good progress in establishing the bilateral
relationship, and the past three years had seen many
positive developments. However, there was still much left
to be done, and, considering that the United States and
Vietnam had fought a war and had a painful history, slow and
gradual progress was understandable, the Ambassador said.

3. (SBU) One of the many bilateral accomplishments was the
normalization of military-to-military ties, the Ambassador
continued. Minister of Defense General Tra had visited the
United States, and there had already been two U.S. Navy ship
visits to Vietnam. Recalling his meeting with General Tra
the week before, the Ambassador said that he and the
Minister had had very cordial discussions in which the
Minister himself had volunteered ideas on how to improve mil-
mil relations. Commercial ties between the United States
and Vietnam were also very strong, and U.S. investment in
and trade with Vietnam were expanding. Humanitarian
cooperation and educational exchange programs were also
making good progress, the Ambassador noted.

4. (SBU) In the area of high-level visits, Deputy Prime
Minister Vu Khoan's trip to Washington, during which he met
with the Secretary and APNSA Rice, was a good opportunity to
have high-level discussions on issues of mutual strategic
interest, the Ambassador said. The United States hoped
that, in the years ahead, we would be able to broaden even
further the relationship between our armed forces. To
improve law enforcement cooperation, we hoped to be able
break down mistrust and develop ties with Vietnam's police.
It was also important for Vietnam to reach out to the
Vietnamese-American community to achieve better
reconciliation with them. There had been good steps in this
area over the past two years, but there was much more that
Vietnam could do, the Ambassador observed.

5. (SBU) Noting that he was "not a diplomat," General Giap
said that he would speak frankly. The GVN had decided on
and the MFA was implementing a clear policy towards the
United States. Over the past several years, Giap's overall
impression was that the relationship had developed well, and
it appeared that ties had become fully normalized after
twenty-one years of conflict. Overall, the situation
between the two countries was good. But, Vietnam shared
with the United States the desire to improve further the
relationship, and both sides had to try hard to achieve this
on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Both sides
should not cause "incidents," whether large or small, that
could damage the relationship. Vietnam also wanted to have
more friendly relations between the peoples of the two
countries, Giap said.

6. (SBU) The United States and Vietnam should continue to
strengthen their two-way trade and commercial ties, Giap
continued. Although he would not go into the issue in
greater detail because he was not an economist, in recent
years, there had been some "incidents and cases" that
"should not have happened." Vietnam also wanted to improve
ties between its young people and those of the United
States, and the media in both countries could play a role in
improving American understanding of Vietnam, Giap observed.

7. (SBU) Turning to the Paris Peace Accord of 1973, Giap
said that an article therein obligated the United States to
help Vietnam to overcome the damage caused by the war, and
this included both "traditional and humanitarian" issues.
Giap noted that representatives from Vietnam had traveled to
the United States, and, on their return, had spoken with
him. Giap's impression was that the results of these visits
were very good. Giap expressed his hope that the bilateral
relationship continued to develop economically, politically,
militarily, and diplomatically.

8. (SBU) Giap said that Vietnam wanted to cooperate fully
with the United States on the issue of full accounting.
Vietnam was grateful to the USG for providing materials to
the GVN to deal with Vietnam's own MIA issue. However,
Vietnam would like to see the USG put even more effort into
solving the Agent Orange issue. Giap had met Admiral
Zumwalt, who had ordered the spraying of Agent Orange in the
Mekong Delta during the war. On the ground, soldiers from
both sides, including Admiral Zumwalt's son, had been
exposed to the defoliant, and the Admiral had "agreed that
the USG should cooperate with Vietnam" to "resolve the
problems," Giap related.

9. (SBU) Giap expressed his hope that the United States
would continue to assist Vietnam in developing human
resources and providing scientific and technological
assistance. Training people was the most useful way to help
each other, Giap said, and he stressed once again that both
sides should minimize "incidents" to ensure that relations
became stronger. The improvement of U.S.-Vietnam relations
was an important factor in maintaining peace and stability
in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Southeast Asia, and
Giap thanked the Ambassador for putting much effort into
this cause over the past three years.

10. (SBU) The Ambassador thanked General Giap for his
comments, noting that increasing contact between the young
people of both nations and strengthening science and
technology cooperation were both very good ideas. In fact,
there was now a program, which existed only in Vietnam, to
bring students to the United States to receive advanced
degrees in the sciences, the Ambassador said.

11. (SBU) Giap noted that his own granddaughter was a
student in Virginia, and, returning to the issue of
Vietnamese-Americans, said that the majority of them wanted
to return to the "homeland," and that Vietnam's policy was
to become increasingly "open," both politically and
economically. Remittances from Viet Kieu in the United
States were also increasing every year. Of course, there
were some who had "betrayed the homeland," Giap continued,
but that happened in every country. However, most
Vietnamese were "patriotic," and Giap expressed his hope
that the USG would do what it could to "assist" overseas
Vietnamese in returning to Vietnam more frequently.

12. (SBU) It was well known that Vietnam's Declaration of
Independence borrowed language from America's Declaration of
Independence, Giap continued, and there were many
similarities between Vietnam and the United States. Vietnam
did not forget that, during the war, "the majority of
Americans" were opposed to the war. Peace, friendship, and
development were the keys to making better the bilateral
relationship on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Giap asked the Ambassador to convey his greetings to his
friends in the United States, particularly those Americans
who had parachuted into Vietnam during World War II. The
Vietnamese people did not forget the good things that others
did for them, and they always respected the independence and
sovereignty of others. Vietnam's culture was very
patriotic, but it was also peace- and independence-loving.
Ho Chi Minh had desired peace and independence not only for
Vietnam, but also for all the peoples of the world, Giap

13. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that his first time working
in Vietnam was at the Embassy in Saigon when Vietnam was at
war. This second time around, Vietnam was at peace and
developing. Giap responded that Vietnam was "heroic and
developing," but still poor, and the United States was much
richer. The Ambassador said that the United States wanted
Vietnam to become richer, and we were trying to help by
encouraging increased investment and assistance. The United
States wanted a strong Vietnam, and there was no strategic
conflict -- in fact, there were many areas of strategic
convergence -- between our two countries, the Ambassador
concluded. Giap said, "I know."

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