Cablegate: Charge Reviews Potus-Related Issues with Mfa

DE RUEHHI #2497/01 2720857
R 290857Z SEP 06




Department for EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: On September 28, the Charge met with MFA Acting
Director of Americas Department Pham Van Que to discuss a range of
bilateral issues in the run-up to the President's visit. Reviewing
the contents of the NSC draft Joint Statement with Que, the Charge
described our hopes for progress in each substantive area mentioned
in the document. On establishment of a Peace Corps program, Que
reported that GVN decision making was progressing and that a Peace
Corps visit would be welcomed soon. The Charge stressed the need to
conclude a detailed agreement. The two discussed the Dalat Nuclear
Fuel Conversion project, the Proliferation Security Initiative, the
status of pending commercial deals, the need for better law
enforcement cooperation, and the Maritime Agreement. The Charge
urged that the cases of three detained Amcits be resolved
expediently and transparently, reiterated our desire to learn more
about moves related to religious freedom, and queried Que about news
of a second round of amnesty releases. Que engaged on all issues,
sometimes constructively, but no new ground was broken. We will
continue to press on all issues. End summary.

Focus on the President's visit

2. (SBU) The Charge began the meeting by noting that much remains to
be accomplished in the seven weeks before the President arrives in
Hanoi. He reported that the White House site survey team had just
completed successful trips to Hanoi and Ho Chin Minh City in
preparation for the President's visits. Turning to substantive
issues that remain to be worked out in advance of the President's
trip, the Charge reviewed in detail the draft Joint Statement. He
stressed that in order for it to be a meaningful document, it must
highlight concrete examples of cooperation, not just include general

Peace Corps

3. (SBU) Concerning the Peace Corps, the Charge noted USG
frustration over the slow pace of progress in negotiations to date
toward agreements necessary to establish a program. Although a
significant amount of work has been done, there remain differences
that must be resolved quickly for the Peace Corps to figure in the
POTUS visit. Washington has said that, without signed agreements,
there will be no announcement of a Peace Corps program during the
President's visit.

4. (SBU) Que replied the MFA is working with the Prime Minister's
office and is waiting for final instructions on the Peace Corps
proposal. MFA has learned, however, that the Ministry of Education
and Training (MOET) has been designated as the GVN counterpart
organization to coordinate the program with the Peace Corps. This
decision was made because MOET already has past experience in
managing similar programs, thus simplifying the process of approval.
When Charge countered that Peace Corps will require specific
treatment regarding its status, Que quickly added that the MFA
understands this and would remain intensely involved, despite MOET's
lead. Que hopes the GVN will invite a Peace Corps representative to
Hanoi for further negotiations, perhaps as early as the first week
in October. Que shared his "personal hope" that a final agreement
could be reached in October to allow for an announcement during the
President's visit. He also made the point that Peace Corps and the
GVN need to gain experience working together before expansion
occurs, but "understands" the Peace Corps' interest in quickly
expanding the number of volunteers beyond ten. The MOET will have
the necessary authority to carry out the GVN's obligations as the
Peace Corps' counterpart agency, Que promised.

Counterterrorism: Dalat Nuclear Project and PSI
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (SBU) The Charge recounted his meeting on September 26 with
Ministry of Science and Technology Vice Minister Thang (septel),
during which Thang signaled that the United States and Vietnam would
not reach formal agreement on the Dalat nuclear fuel conversion
project before the POTUS visit. The Charge explained to Que that
the Dalat project is particularly important because of the
inadequate security for its highly enriched uranium and the risk
that it could fall into terrorist hands. Moving ahead before the
POTUS visit would be a strong demonstration of our shared
non-proliferation stance.

6. (SBU) Que responded that the Dalat project is still undergoing
interagency review within the GVN, which includes MFA input. He
asked for basic information about the program, such as how many
other countries have been involved in similar projects and what it
will mean to Vietnam to lose its only HEU facility. The Charge
promised to supply Que with the information, but noted that this
information has already been provided to the GVN and that the two
governments have been discussing the project since 2004.

HANOI 00002497 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) The Charge noted the importance of having Vietnam associate
itself with the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Que agreed
that the United States and Vietnam share the objective of preventing
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but made no
additional substantive comment regarding PSI. He did state that
Vietnam is interested in finding some way in the Joint Statement to
indicate that the two nations share goals and are working together
in this area, perhaps - for now -- by noting joint efforts to
enhance security at the Dalat research reactor site.

Law Enforcement Cooperation

8. (SBU) The relative lack of GVN law enforcement cooperation, and
the overly cautious attitude of Vietnamese law enforcement agencies
to share (in some cases) even basic information, is noted in the
United States, the Charge told Que. Law enforcement cooperation
needs to improve in order to address important money laundering and
other issues. A draft MOU between DEA and the Ministry of Public
Security (MPS) is languishing in the MPS. It seems that, with
enhanced coordination within the GVN, this very basic document could
be ready for signing before the President's visit. Que lamented
about the GVN bureaucracy, saying it takes too long to clear items
through the many agencies. (Note septel on Charge's September 29
discussions with MPS on this topic.)

Commercial Deals/Maritime Agreement

9. (SBU) In connection with U.S.-Vietnam commercial activity, the
Charge noted the intensity of media attention that will surround the
President's visit. It will be an ideal time to highlight to
important audiences that, despite Vietnam's huge trade surplus with
the United States, the commercial relationship is also important to
citizens of the United States. Signing deals in the limelight of
the November visit will send a strong message that Vietnam is a
growing market for U.S. exports. Que agreed that trade should be a
"two-way street." The Charge noted concerns that the GVN has yet to
schedule the signing of the Maritime Agreement, which we understood
was ready for signature in August. Que promised to check into the

Detained AmCits deserve fair treatment

10. (SBU) The Charge underscored concerns being expressed about the
well-being of three U.S. citizen prisoners detained for over one
year without charge on suspicion of links with Nguyen Huu Chanh.
One senator has placed a hold on PNTR consideration due to the case
of one of the detainees. Detention without charge, medical concerns
and lack of apparent movement in these legal cases raise issues that
we ask the GVN to address. GVN prosecutors need to complete their
investigation and, if there is no case against the detainees,
release them. The GVN should also provide the detainees with
adequate medical care. Que's only response was that the
investigation process "takes time."

Human rights cases

11. (SBU) The Charge noted press reports of an upcoming "second
round" amnesty in late October, noting that the release of two
Vietnamese prisoners identified as "prisoners of concern" would be
welcomed. Que responded that reports of a second amnesty were
incorrect, and that the next round would take place in relation to
the Tet festivities early next year. The Charge also urged Que
about the need for relevant GVN agencies to provide us with regular
updates on developments in the area of religious freedom,
particularly GVN efforts to register more new churches.

12. (SBU) Comment: The Charge left a copy of the draft Joint
Statement and a non-paper on the AmCit detainees with Que. Post is
double-tracking all the issues discussed with the respective lead
ministries and agencies to push for progress.


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