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Cablegate: Report On Dpmo Discussions in Gia Lai Province On

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002711

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

OSD/ISA/AP FOR LEW STERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR MOPS
SUBJECT: REPORT ON DPMO DISCUSSIONS IN GIA LAI PROVINCE ON
POW-MIA CASES

1. (SBU) Summary: The Department of Defense, POW/MIA Affairs
Office, Senior Director for Policy, led a team of five
Americans
to Pleiku city on 23-24 September 2004, in order for U.S. and
Vietnamese technical experts to review cases involving
unaccounted-
for Americans in Gia Lai Province, interview previously
requested
witnesses, and determine next steps on conducting Joint
POW/MIA
Accounting Command investigation and recovery operations in
the
Central Highlands province. The Chairman of the Gia Lai
Province People's
Committee received the team and restated clearly that there is
only one standard for conducting MIA operations in Vietnam
and that the
Central Highlands (Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kon Tum Provinces)
are not off
limits. The Province Chairman also said that MIA operations
would continue
in GiaLai Province when the time was appropriate. He said he
was upset
that the U.S. State Department had placed Vietnam on the
"countries of
particular concern" list and asked senior Director for Policy
to relay his
comments to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
POW/MIA Affairs.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) The Defense POW-MIA Office (DPMO) Senior Director
for
Policy (SDP), Melinda Cooke, visited Pleiku City 23-24
September representing
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs to
discuss
resumption of MIA recovery operations in Gia Lai Province.
Cooke was
accompanied by policy officer Jack Kull from DPMO,
operational and investigations
specialists Richard Hites and Ron Ward from the Joint POW-MIA
Accounting Command (JPAC) Headquarters in Hawaii and Gary
Flanagan from JPAC
Detachment 2 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vietnam Government's
Director of
the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Personnel
(VNOSMP/Ministry of
Foreign Affairs) Pham Van Que also traveled to Pleiku for the
discussions
and interviews, as well as military, public security and other
civilian officials from Gia Lai. Que was accompanied by
VNOSMP/Ministry of
Public Security specialist Nguyen Quang Minh and
VNOSMP/Ministry of
National Defense specialist Colonel Nguyen Tri Chu.

3. (SBU) The Gia Lai Province People's Committee Chairman
Pham
The Dung (Dzung) received the U.S. working group as the first
official stop after
arriving in Pleiku city on 23 September. After announcing
that "I am upset"
with Vietnam being placed on the "countries of particular
concern" (CPC) list,
Dung stressed that SDP should relay to the U.S. side with
emphasis that
there is only one national standard for MIA operations in
Vietnam.
Chairman Dung then introduced his Provincial MIA Team and
invited the U.S.
working group to discuss cases in Gia Lai Province and
discuss potential
methods for continuing MIA search work in the province.

4. (SBU) The Vietnamese and U.S. members of the working group
reconvened at the Pleiku Hotel to resume discussions. The
Provincial MIA Team
announced they had located three of five requested witnesses
for
interview and would make them available for interviews on 24
September. JPAC members reviewed all the cases in Gia Lai
Province and discussed requirements with the provincial
officials
for the cases that remain unresolved. Provincial MIA Team
members, especially the members from the Provincial Military
Command, showed great interest in the remaining cases and
responded enthusiastically when discussing details of how to
proceed. After lengthy discussions, the Provincial MIA Team
offered that two cases had previously been prepared for
excavation. These cases, they stated, would be the logical
starting point for resuming recovery operations in Gia Lai.

5. (SBU) The VNOSMP Director Que closed the working meeting
with
his assessment that all the working level discussions had
been very positive.
Que stressed that the U.S. side would not yet be able to
carry out
combined Vietnam/U.S. recovery operations. He said the
VNOSMP would
continue to work with the provinces in the Central Highlands,
and requested that
the U.S. side provide pertinent information on all the
remaining cases in
Gia Lai. The U.S. side agreed.

6. The Gia Lai Provincial MIA Team and members of the VNOSMP
said
that it might be time to discuss a new mechanism for
recovery. VNOSMP
Director Que stated that the Vietnam side may be ready to
consider
a Vietnamese unilateral recovery effort at specific sites, but
would consider allowing the U.S. side to assign an
anthropologist,
a team leader, a life support investigator and a linguist to
participate in the recovery effort.

7. (SBU) JPAC members offered to discuss the remaining cases
in
the other Central Highlands provinces. VNOSMP Director Que
declined and
said that the working group should concentrate on Gia Lai
Province for now.
He thanked the working group and informed the U.S. members of
the
working group that the requested interviews would take place
the following
morning.

8. (SBU) In the morning on 24 September, the U.S. working
group
interviewed three witnesses. (Comment: Results of the
interview
will be published under separate cover and issued from JPAC
Headquarters in Hawaii.)

9. (SBU) On 24 September, when the US team met with the
Provincial MIA Team, the team leader started this working
session
by informing SDP Cooke that the recent U.S. Government
initiative
to include Vietnam on the Country of Particular Concern (CPC)
list made him suspicious of U.S. intentions. He also stated
that
this might impact future investigations and recovery
operations.
He went on to discuss all the cases in Gia Lai Province, the
remaining work, and to determine which cases would be worked
as higher priority. The
following day, the Provincial MIA Team made available three
witnesses for
interview by the U.S. team.

10. (SBU) Although the witnesses did not provide any specific
information concerning the cases being investigated, they did
provide
information that correlated to other Americans; one involving
a resolved case and
one other case not yet correlated.

11. (SBU) Comments: Reopening the Central Highlands to
investigations and recoveries is an important step in
advancing the overall success
of POW/MIA affairs in Vietnam. Embassy feels the interviews
are
steps in the right direction, however, more coordinated
efforts by USG will be
necessary to make this realized. References to the effects
of CPC
on this important mission were not unexpected, however, it is
interesting
that the repeated reference to CPC by Gia Lai officials is
the strongest
verbal complaint by GVN officials to USG on CPC to date. It
remains
important to the success of POW/MIA affairs in Vietnam that
the Mission be
completely involved and informed with when dealing with GVN
on POW/MIA matters.
MARINE

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