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Cablegate: Mfa Concerned About Vnhra, Looking Forward To

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 002757

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT PASS TO EAP/BCLTV; EAP/RSP; DRL; PRM; CA; PM; T; H
STATE PASS TO USTR FOR E.BRYAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PREF CASC CVIS KPOW OTRA OVIP VM KICC HUMANR RELFREE WTO HIV AIDS
SUBJECT: MFA CONCERNED ABOUT VNHRA, LOOKING FORWARD TO
VISITS

1. (U) Summary: During an hour-long discussion October 6,
Vice Foreign Minister Le Van Bang told the Ambassador that
the GVN, while concerned about the possible passage of the
Human Rights Act in the Senate, was still looking forward to
a visit to the United States by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai
in 2005. Bang said he himself would visit the United States
in March, possibly to advance PM Khai's visit. He agreed
that Vietnam should address insurance and investment issues
and improve its consular notification record, but was
noncommittal on underwater POW/MIA operations, an Article 98
agreement, progress on key PEPFAR issues and movement on the
purchase of the new Embassy building site. VFM Bang also
asked about the establishment of a program to assist Central
Highlands migrants who wanted to go to the United States.
End Summary.

POSSIBLE PHAN VAN KHAI VISIT
----------------------------

2. (SBU) The Ambassador, accompanied by Poloff, met October
6 with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Van Bang. Bang
said he had accepted an invitation to a seminar to
commemorate the tenth anniversary of the normalization of
bilateral relations at Texas Tech University in Lubbock at
the end of March 2005. He looked forward to seeing former
Ambassadors Burghardt and Peterson there, and suggested that
Ambassador Marine might also be invited. After visiting
Texas, Bang said he planned to come to Washington, D.C., to
"connect with his old friends" and, possibly, advance the
visit of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. Advance visits, Bang
said, usually took place about a month before the actual
visit, so if PM Khai's visit were planned for early in the
second quarter of 2005, his visit to Texas could double as
an advance trip.

3. (SBU) VFM Bang said there were several agreements that
the GVN was working on in advance of a possible visit by PM
Khai, including the U.S.-proposed Bilateral Assistance
Framework, a maritime transportation agreement and a
Memorandum of Understanding on Culture. The Ambassador
noted that important steps forward - such as an Article 98
agreement - should not be held up just to provide something
to sign during a visit, but should be concluded when they
were ready. Doing this ahead of a visit would be of
substantial benefit to both sides, he added. VFM Bang
agreed, noting that things should be done "step by step."

OTHER VISITS - GVN OFFICIALS
----------------------------

3. (SBU) The Ambassador asked Bang if there would be any
other high-level visits in advance of a Khai visit, such as
a rescheduled visit by Politburo member Phan Dien. Bang
said we should keep in mind that, although it had not been
possible to carry out the Phan Dien visit scheduled for July
2004, the preparation for that visit had had a positive
effect. He suggested we contact Phan Dien directly with any
questions about rescheduling that visit. The Ambassador
noted the upcoming visit of Vice Foreign Minister Nguyen Phu
Binh to the United States to meet with members of the
overseas Vietnamese community. Bang said that this visit
was a response to the consistent advice Vietnam had received
from the U.S. Embassy to reach out more to the overseas
Vietnamese community in the United States. Bang suggested
the Embassy coordinate directly with VFM Binh to ensure a
successful visit.

GVN: WTO WILL TAKE CARE OF INSURANCE, AUTO PROBLEMS
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) Vice Minister of Finance Le Thi Bang Tam was
currently in the United States, the Ambassador noted, and
had met with Deputy United States Trade Representative
Josette Shiner. The U.S. insurance and auto industries had
serious concerns about the investment climate in Vietnam, he
said, and this is something the GVN needs to address. The
United States remained committed to Vietnam's accession to
the WTO, the Ambassador confirmed, but that process would
require a Congressional debate on Permanent Normal Trading
Relations (PNTR) status and, in the course of that debate,
Vietnam would receive little help from American businesses
if they felt that there had been no progress on issues of
importance to them. VFM Bang said he agreed that the
insurance and investment issues needed attention, and noted
that "all of these problems will be resolved during the WTO
accession process."
U.S. VISITORS AND CONSULAR ISSUES
---------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Ambassador mentioned the upcoming visits to
Vietnam of Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty and
Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State Marie Huhtala and
Kelly Ryan. A/S Harty wants to discuss moving the adoption
process forward and will also raise both the issue of timely
consular notification of arrest and the status of consular
officers working from the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi
Minh City. VFM Bang agreed that it was necessary to improve
timely consular notifications on both sides. A Vietnamese
student had recently been detained for over two years in
California without notification to Vietnamese consular
authorities, he said. The Ambassador urged Bang to bring
such cases to the Embassy's attention immediately. VFM Bang
explained that Vietnam was happy to give free access to
officers from the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City and
already did so. He cited the recent trips by Consul General
Winnick and others to the Central Highlands and Danang as
examples, adding that, "in practice, your Ho Chi Minh City
officers can work in the provinces. But official permission
is difficult because it would force us to grant the same
privileges to everyone, which is not possible."

PRM DAS RYAN'S VISIT
--------------------

6. (SBU) VFM Bang asked what the United States and Vietnam
could do to open up the legal migration options for
residents of the Central Highlands who wanted to go to the
United States, especially those with family members already
there. The Ambassador replied that could be one of the
subjects for the visit by DAS Kelly Ryan; with the support
of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, the United States is moving
ahead to process the applications of family members seeking
to join individuals who entered the U.S. from Cambodia in
recent years. The Ambassador stressed the importance of
handling these cases smoothly. He added that the United
States was considering establishing an in-country processing
program for refugee applicants.

WELCOME TO EAP DAS HUHTALA
--------------------------

7. (SBU) VFM Bang also said he welcomed the visit of DAS
Marie Huhtala and regretted that he would not be in Vietnam
at the time of her visit. He expected that it would be
possible to set up a call with the Foreign Minister, and
possibly also to have Vice Minister Phung host an event of
some kind for her.

GVN CONCERN: VNHRA IN THE SENATE
--------------------------------

8. (SBU) VFM Bang noted that the United States Congress was
about to adjourn, and said that the GVN was "very worried"
about the Vietnam Human Rights Act in the Senate. The HRA's
passage, along with the designation of Vietnam as a Country
of Particular Concern (CPC), would be "very damaging" and
would "set back bilateral relations." He asked us to "make
every effort" to stop that from happening in order to avoid
a "strong protest" from Vietnam. The Ambassador noted that
the best way to avoid this was to fix the situation on the
ground and take clear actions that could be seen as positive
developments, such as allowing new church registrations and
publicly prohibiting forced renunciations. The September 21
sentencing of protestors from Gia Lai province sent a
"negative signal, however." If honoring religious freedom
was GVN policy, the Ambassador said, then the GVN should
make that public, take concrete actions to demonstrate it
and fill up "the positive side of the ledger." VFM Bang
said the issue was not religious expression in Vietnam, but
those who "promoted themselves through religion" and mixed
politics and religion.

ARTICLE 98 AND IMET AGREEMENTS: DIFFICULT
-----------------------------------------

9. (SBU) The Ambassador told Bang that other positive steps
the GVN could take would be to sign Article 98 and 505
(IMET) agreements with the United States and to assist in
the procurement of the site for the new Embassy building.
VFM Bang said that an Article 98 agreement "would require
further study" but that an IMET agreement was something that
Vietnam was thinking about. English training through the
agreement would be "valuable to us." Regarding the new
chancery, Bang felt it would be necessary for him to meet
face-to-face with the Russians in order to resolve some
remaining concerns about the proposed site. He promised to
pursue this as soon as possible.

POW/MIA UNDERWATER OPERATIONS: WE'LL LOOK INTO IT
--------------------------------------------- ----

10. (SBU) The Ambassador also raised the issue of the
underwater POW/MIA recovery operations we hoped to pursue
using a U.S. ship, possibly with some Vietnamese officials
on board and operating in tandem with a Vietnamese ship.
The U.S. side wanted to move ahead on this humanitarian
effort and make concrete plans, the Ambassador said, but was
so far had been blocked by the Ministry of Defense's
objection to any foreign naval vessel operating in
Vietnamese waters. VFM Bang said he knew little about the
issue but would look into it.

PEPFAR
------

11. (SBU) The Ambassador described planned U.S. activities
under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR) and noted that the first test of our bilateral
cooperation would be the GVN's approval of the importation
and use of new drugs by the end of March 2005. Second, the
two sides needed to coordinate well "at a senior level"
because of the scope of the project. He offered to brief
Vietnam's National Committee on HIV/AIDS, Prostitution, and
Drug Control at their convenience.

12. (SBU) Comment: Le Van Bang was fighting off a cold,
facing the task of being State protocol chief during the
visit of 39 top-level delegations to ASEM (including five
consecutive bilateral state visits) and preparing for a four-
country trip (October 13-29) to South America where he will
advance the visit of President Tran Duc Luong to the region
during the APEC meetings next month. This partially
explains his relatively limited responses to the concerns we
raised. VFM Bang's discussion of the Senate vote was
curious, because the GVN is almost certainly aware that the
VNHRA's chances are slim. He either has information we
don't about the bill's chances of passage, or, counting on
the bill's failure in the Senate, the MFA is looking for
something it can call good news after the blow of CPC
designation.
MARINE

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