Cablegate: Eap Das Marie Huhtala's October 22 Meeting With

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: EAP DAS Marie Huhtala's October 22 Meeting with
Communist Party External Relations Commission's Pham Tien

1. (SBU) Summary: During an October 22 meeting with
Communist Party External Affairs Commission (Western Europe
and North America) Director Pham Tien Nhien, EAP DAS Marie
Huhtala expressed U.S. support for Vietnam's WTO accession,
urged Vietnam to engage in greater operational law
enforcement cooperation with the United States, and
underlined the need for progress in the areas of human
rights and religious freedom in the run-up to the planned
visit to the United States by PM Phan Van Khai. DAS Huhtala
also encouraged Vietnam to sign an Article 98 agreement.
Director Nhien outlined the areas of progress in the U.S.-
Vietnam relationship, including trade, politics and
humanitarian and development assistance and expressed his
party's will to continue to work to develop bilateral
relations. Nhien expressed optimism about the future, but
added that both countries have to make efforts and not allow
"incidents" to affect negatively their ties. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia
and Pacific Affairs Marie Huhtala met October 22 with Pham
Tien Nhien, Director of the Western Europe and North America
Department of the Communist Party's External Affairs
Commission. The DCM, Pol/C and Poloff also attended.
Bilateral relations are in a healthy state, DAS Huhtala
opened, and it is good to see progress in many areas,
particularly in trade, thanks to the implementation of the
Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA). Nhien responded that the
Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) pays a great deal of
attention to the development of relations and agreed that
one of the most important benchmarks thus far has been the
implementation of the BTA. In fact, the success of the BTA
has caused envy among some of Vietnam's European trading
partners, and several European leaders have urged Vietnam to
give EU members the same treatment as the United States in
trade relations with Vietnam. Until now, however, no EU
member has signed a trade agreement with Vietnam comparable
in scope to the BTA. The fact that the United States is now
Vietnam's number one export market proves the effectiveness
of the BTA in stimulating economic interaction. Vietnam's
goal now is to increase two-way trade with China this year
to the level of Vietnam's trade with the United States last
year, Nhien noted.

3. (SBU) Political and other areas of the bilateral
relationship have also developed, Nhien continued. For
example, the Secretary of Defense (Secretary Cohen) and the
Minister of Defense exchanged visits, and two U.S. Navy
ships called on ports in Vietnam. Deputy Prime Minister Vu
Khoan visited the United States last year, and both sides
have expressed their support for continuing to exchange high-
level visitors to help to prepare for Prime Minister Phan
Van Khai's visit to the United States in 2005, the details
of which have yet to be decided. In 2006, Vietnam looks
forward to hosting a visit by the President to coincide with
the APEC Summit in Hanoi. Naturally, both sides cannot
expect high-level visitors to be able to resolve all the
issues in the bilateral relationship, but they can
contribute to efforts to find a solution, and Vietnam
believes these visits are important, Nhien said.

4. (SBU) The development of bilateral relations in
education, health, and science and technology are also
significant. Vietnam especially appreciates the support of
private and public organizations in the United States in
funding the studies of Vietnamese students and young people,
Nhien continued. Furthermore, an increasing number of
Vietnamese are able to fund their study programs in the
United States on their own. Educational exchanges help to
lay a firm foundation for the future, as young people from
Vietnam help their American friends to understand more about
Vietnam, and returnees from studies in the United States can
help their Vietnamese family and friends to understand more
about America. Education provides a direct benefit to
mutual understanding. Vietnam is also grateful to the USG
for its HIV/AIDS care and prevention assistance, Nhien said.

5. (SBU) To continue to promote relations requires the
efforts of both the United States and Vietnam, and both
sides should work to not allow "incidents" to affect
bilateral ties, Nhien concluded.

6. (SBU) Thanking Director Nhien for his comprehensive
survey of relations, DAS Huhtala observed that European envy
of the BTA reflects how strong and effective that agreement
is. The EU members are aware, however, that the BTA
negotiations adhered to WTO's goals to ensure that, when
Vietnam becomes a member of that organization, there will be
a better playing field for all of Vietnam's trading
partners. The USG supports Vietnam's WTO accession, and we
will continue our WTO-related discussions next week in
Washington. The United States will seek terms of accession
that comply with all of the requirements and criteria of the
WTO because they ensure fair and free trade around the
world. Of course, as in any developing relationship, we
will have trade problems, but, as with our other trade
partners, we will resolve them one by one. In the case of
Vietnam-U.S. trade relations, one significant issue is that
of the protection of intellectual property rights, which is
essential for attracting and protecting investors in
Vietnam, DAS Huhtala stressed.

7. (SBU) Another important goal for the United States and
Vietnam is increasing law enforcement cooperation. The
United States seeks operational cooperation on the ground,
DAS Huhtala said, and we hope that we can develop further
our relationship in this area to confront the various
challenges we share with Vietnam, such as narcotics and

8. (SBU) The year 2005 will mark the tenth anniversary of
bilateral relations, and the United States and Vietnam are
discussing the possibility of many different activities,
including a visit by PM Khai to the United States, DAS
Huhtala continued. However, in order for such a visit to be
as successful as possible, we need to see greater progress
in the areas of human rights and religious freedom because
they are issues of great importance to the American people
and the Congress. The USG also hopes to sign a number of
agreements, including an Article 98 agreement. In the
future, there will be many specific areas requiring
bilateral discussion, but we have made impressive progress
over the past nine years and look forward to continued
progress, DAS Huhtala said.

9. (SBU) Officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
the Department of State will discuss thoroughly the details
of PM Khai's visit, Nhien said. The CPV, GVN and people of
Vietnam are strongly in favor of enhancing the relationship
between the United States and Vietnam. However, Vietnam is
not used to having preconditions for what will be a
successful visit by any person at any level, Nhien noted.
DAS Huhtala replied that, by raising the issues of religious
freedom and human rights, we are not trying to set a
precondition but instead are underlining the importance with
which the American people view these issues.

10. (SBU) For its part, the CPV will do its utmost to
develop bilateral relations in a positive way, Nhien
continued. Politicians and political agencies have to "hear
the voices and demands" of the people, and the Vietnamese
people have their own "demands" of the United States.
However, "we are optimists," and, in spite of the "burden of
history" shared by the United States and Vietnam, the two
sides have reached a "level of positive development."
Vietnam looks forward to an even brighter future for the
relationship, Nhien concluded.

11. (U) DAS Huhtala cleared this message.

© Scoop Media

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