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Cablegate: Vietnam: Ambassador's Call On the Minister Of

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

1. Summary. The Minister of Science and Technology Hoang
Van Phong explained to the Ambassador a new initiative to
establish Centers of Excellence for returning Vietnam
Education Foundation scholars. Building off a suggestion
raised during last month's fourth annual Science and
Technology Joint Committee Meeting in Washington, the
Ambassador and the Minister agreed to collaborate on a
science and technology week in 2005. The Minister expressed
interest in continued participation in exchange programs.
He described the initial stages of the GVN's effort to plan
for constructing a nuclear power plant. He expressed
optimism that Vietnam would pass a new law on intellectual
property rights (IPR) by the end of 2005. End Summary.

2. The Ambassador, accompanied by Econoff, paid a 45-minute
initial call on Minister of Science and Technology Hoang Van
Phong on December 3. The Ministry of Science and Technology
(MOST) is responsible for coordinating the U.S.-Vietnam
cooperative agreement on science and technology. MOST also
oversees the Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission (VAEC) and the
National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP). Throughout
their meeting, the Ambassador and Minister Phong discussed
ways to link scientific research with commercial and
economic development. Moreover, they also explored ways to
recruit more young people, including Viet Kieu living in the
United States, into Vietnam's scientific community.

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3. They both noted that many aspects of the bilateral
science and technology agreement already seek to achieve
these goals, as does the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF),
which selects and provides scholarships for Vietnamese
students mainly for postgraduate studies in the sciences at
U.S. universities. Phong considers a recent initiative
aimed at establishing Centers of Excellence (COE) to be the
best way to offer meaningful opportunities to returning VEF
scholars. Under this proposal, these centers will be
international standard research programs situated at
Vietnamese universities and institutes. Phong noted that
MOST Vice Minister Bui Manh Hai had signed an agreement on
the COE proposal with the VEF and the Institute for Advanced
Studies on November 17 just before the Science and
Technology Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Washington
(septel). MOST is currently conducting research with VEF on
the appropriate model for the centers and will seek funding
from the World Bank in the near future. Phong welcomed the
Ambassador's offer to assist in providing links to the U.S.
academic and business communities and agreed to keep in
close contact as the project develops.

4. Phong and the Ambassador both supported the idea of
organizing a week to promote scientific cooperation between
Vietnam and the United States as proposed by Vice Minister
Hai at the 4th JCM. Phong agreed with the Ambassador that
this event would help strengthen the ties between the
scientific communities in both countries and serve as a good
opportunity to link scientific research with commercial and
economic development. Noting that most important
technologies in several fields are often developed by
private enterprise, Phong listed many areas of interest to
Vietnam such as health care, information technology and
agriculture. Phong and the Ambassador agreed that MOST and
embassy staff members should begin coordinating immediately
on possible topics and potential dates. They both agreed to
be prepared to discuss this issue during OES PDAS Anthony
Rock's proposed visit in early 2005.

5. Expressing his appreciation for the Embassy's support for
previous exchanges and study tours, the Minister said he
hopes that MOST can continue to benefit from such programs.
The Ambassador encouraged Phong to coordinate closely with
the Embassy's science and technology officer once MOST has
determined its needs. Phong suggested and the Ambassador
agreed that establishing a museum of natural sciences in
Vietnam, as Prime Minister Phan Van Khai had recently
directed, was one area that could benefit from such a

6. On energy, Phong remarked that MOST and the Ministry of
Industry (MOI) are considering the best way to start a
nuclear energy program in Vietnam. MOI has submitted the
first phase of a study on Vietnam's energy needs to the
Prime Minister who has referred it to relevant ministries
for comment, but Phong did not know how soon this study
would be completed. Phong added that the GVN considers that
developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes will play a
critical role in Vietnam's economic development and energy
security. In response to the Ambassador's advocacy on
behalf of U.S. firms such as Westinghouse, Phong said that
the GVN considers the United States to be a promising source
of information and technology for such endeavors.

7. Turning to intellectual property rights, the Minister
predicted that a new law would be submitted to the next
session of the National Assembly in May 2005 and probably
approved by the end of the year. He called for setting up a
mechanism to discuss IPR disputes. Phong went on to say
that the IPR law and the law on technology transfer (which
also covers franchise royalties) are very important for
Vietnam's economic development. He expressed hope that the
United States and Vietnam would be able to work closely on
these two issues. The Ambassador noted that Vietnam's
approach to IPR protection would be a key consideration in
the timing of Vietnam's WTO accession, adding that the
United States would welcome the opportunity to comment on
these proposed laws.

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