Cablegate: Mfa Official Discusses President's Visit, High-Level

DE RUEHHI #2152/01 2351036
R 231036Z AUG 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Hanoi 2077


1. (SBU) On August 22, MFA Americas Department Acting Deputy
Director General Pham Van Que reviewed a number of issues of
bilateral concern with the DCM. According to Que, the GVN's top two
goals for the President's visit are passage of PNTR and removal of
Vietnam's CPC designation; the GVN also hopes to settle the new
Embassy land issue before the visit. DPM/FM Khiem has not yet
formally decided whether to attend UNGA, but may consider a pre-UNGA
(and post-Non-Aligned Movement Summit) visit to Washington.
National Assembly Vice Chairman Truong Quang Duoc is also mulling
over a visit to the United States in September. Que raised the
GVN's strong interest in the cases of "terrorists" Ly Tong and
Nguyen Huu Chanh; urged the USG to "do something" about the
inability of three Vietnamese banks to open representative offices
in the United States; noted that a resolution of the De Pham case is
in the offing; and, expressed concern about ConGen HCMC officers'
consular investigations.

2. (SBU) The DCM expressed strong concern about the comments of a
Vietnamese security official in which the "safety" of U.S. Mission
officers meeting with dissidents was called into question. He
stressed that Embassy officers conduct their necessary business in a
professional and open manner. On the subject of religious freedom,
the DCM underlined the importance for the GVN to take specific
actions over the next six weeks and provide a roadmap on its
intentions for the next year. Finally, Que confirmed that prisoners
of concern Pham Hong Son and Ma Van Bay will be released in the days
ahead. End Summary.

PNTR and CPC Are Vietnam's Top Goals for President's Visit
--------------------------------------------- --------

3. (SBU) The DCM met August 22 with MFA Americas Department Acting
Deputy Director General Pham Van Que, at Vietnam's request, to
review a number of issues of mutual interest. Que expressed
Vietnam's hope that the U.S. Congress will pass PNTR legislation
before the President's November visit to Vietnam and also remove
Vietnam's Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designation. The GVN
hopes that the USG will pursue "high-level engagement" with the
Congress on the matter of PNTR, and, to that end, State President
Nguyen Minh Triet will write to President Bush welcoming his
upcoming visit to Vietnam and "mentioning PNTR." Que, clearly in
the drafting chain, asked for our suggestions for subjects to be
covered in the letter. The DCM replied that strong commitments to
fundamental freedoms and hopes for a stronger, more constructive
relationship would be welcomed.

High-Level Vietnamese Visitors

4. (SBU) Que reported that DPM/FM Pham Gia Khiem is scheduled to
attend a "Non-Aligned Movement Summit" in Havana that wraps up in
mid-September. Khiem is considering a visit to the United States
between the end of that meeting and his possible attendance at the
UNGA. Que emphasized that no decisions have been made on travel to
either UNGA or the United States, but he asked that Washington be
alerted to the possibility Khiem may request meetings. The DCM
noted that the September timeframe is extremely busy for U.S.
leaders and officials, but promised to convey Que's comments. Que
also said that National Assembly Vice Chairman Truong Quang Duoc
would like to visit Washington, D.C., and possibly other places, in
September. The DCM cautioned that between Congress' election year
activities and the UNGA, September may be a difficult month to
schedule meetings.

New Embassy Compound

5. (SBU) Que briefly raised ongoing bilateral discussions
surrounding acquisition of land for the new Embassy compound,
stressing that the GVN's goal is to settle the matter before the
President's visit. The DCM acknowledged that progress that has been
made to date and agreed on the desirability of the settlement of
this long-standing matter.

Vietnamese Banks

6. (SBU) Noting that three Vietnamese banks, including Vietcombank,
have been unsuccessful in their attempts to open representative
offices in the United States, Que urged the USG to "take this matter
seriously." State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) officials would likely
raise this matter soon with the Embassy, Que said.

Ly Tong/Nguyen Huu Chanh

HANOI 00002152 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) Que also urged the USG to "do something" regarding the
cases of "terrorists" Ly Tong and Nguyen Huu Chanh. "You know our
position on these two individuals," Que said.

De Pham

8. (SBU) On the case of De Pham Lifvenborg, an American citizen
barred to leave Vietnam while under investigation for possible
economic crimes, Que said that she would meet again that day (August
22) with the Ministry of Public Security. (The Embassy has been
pressing the GVN to allow Ms. Lifvenborg, who is pregnant, to leave
the country for medical treatment that cannot be provided in
Vietnam.) The MFA is working with others in the GVN to clear the
way, Que said, to allow her to travel to Singapore within the next
few days. The DCM expressed appreciation for the GVN's assistance
and understanding in this humanitarian matter.

Meetings with Dissidents

9. (SBU) Que noted that EAP DAS Eric John met August 18 with
Vietnamese Ambassador Chien and raised the issue of MPS officials'
telling an Embassy Hanoi representative that the safety of Mission
officers could not be guaranteed should they meet with dissidents.
(DAS John was responding to our report of a conversation between MPS
officials and the Embassy - reftel - in which MPS Counter Terrorism
Department Senior Colonel Nguyen Nhu Huong stated that the safety of
diplomats meeting with dissidents "could not be guaranteed. End
Note.) Having learned of this exchange via the Vietnam Embassy's
cable from Washington reporting the meeting with DAS John, Que
requested further details about this exchange. The DCM described
conversation with MPS and underscored our surprise and unhappiness
over this message. The DCM added that it is because of our wide
range of contacts throughout Vietnam that we can credibly report on
events in Vietnam. An inability on the Embassy's part to conduct
this necessary business would have a severe impact on the bilateral
relationship. For example, without the ability to analyze with
certainty developments in Vietnam, the Embassy would lose the
capability to report improvements in areas such as human rights and
religious freedom. Mission Vietnam representatives conduct their
business in a professional and open manner in all their contacts
with Vietnamese. Que did not challenge these points, but added
that, while the GVN does not forbid Vietnamese from meeting
"outsiders," some activists and others are "emboldened" by their
meetings with USG officials.

Consular Travel in HCMC

10. (SBU) On a somewhat related topic, Que noted that the MFA
Consular Department's Deputy Director recently met with Embassy's
Consular Chief to remind ConGen HCMC officers to "obey regulations"
(septel). Que said that he had heard that some ConGen HCMC officers
had behaved "rudely" in dealings with Vietnmanese officials.
Referring indirectly to the investigative activities of Mission
officers, Que suggested that if we suspect fraud in visa or
resettlement cases, then perhaps the USG and GVN can pursue "joint
investigations." The DCM reiterated that our officers would
continue to carry out their duties professionally and appropriately.
Furthermore, the USG is concerned not only about fraud in visa and
resettlement cases, but also in adoption cases, he added.

Religious Freedom

11. (SBU) Following up on Ambassador Hanford's recent discussions in
Hanoi, the DCM provided Que with a list of 584 ECVN-affiliated
congregations in northern Vietnam that had attempted to register but
had their applications rejected or returned. The DCM recalled that
Ambassador Hanford had stressed that progress in this area over the
next six weeks, along with other steps, would help to demonstrate
Vietnam's commitment to enhancing freedom of worship.

Prisoners of Concern

12. (SBU) The DCM urged Vietnam to release prisoners of concern Pham
Hong Son, Nguyen Vu Binh, Phan Van Ban and Ma Van Bay. Their
release would send a strong and positive signal, the DCM said. Que
confirmed that Ma Van Bay and Pham Hong Son would be released in the
days ahead.


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