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Cablegate: Mfa Protests Ambassador's Remarks in Support of Greater

VZCZCXRO7195
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #3021 3520023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180023Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4133
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 2243

UNCLAS HANOI 003021

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO EAP/MLS; DRL/AWH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO VM
SUBJECT: MFA Protests Ambassador's Remarks in Support of Greater
Political Freedom

Ref: Hanoi 2624

1. (SBU) During a roundtable with foreign correspondents on December
13, the Ambassador spoke on the issue of human rights, freedom of
expression and the GVN's treatment of activists and others who
peacefully voice their political views. Responding to a reporter's
question about the activities of newly formed groups (such as Bloc
8406) calling for political change, the Ambassador said, "I think
that the people who belong to groups like 8406 have the power of
their convictions. The strength of their convictions is such that
they are willing to speak out, but I think that they are true
patriots. They want the best for Vietnam, and the growth of
democracy at a pace that Vietnam is ready for and the Vietnamese
people want is something that we support." These remarks were
widely reported in press accounts.

2. (SBU) On December 14, MFA Americas Department Pham Van Que
informed the DCM that the MFA would soon release a statement
"protesting" the DCM's remarks. Later in the day, MFA Spokesman Le
Dung released the following statement:

Begin text of MFA statement:

A law-governed State requires all of its citizens to respect and
abide by its laws and those who intentionally violate them must be
punished in line with the country's laws.

I don't understand to which country the Ambassador was referring to
when he talked about these "patriots." The Vietnamese State,
together with its public opinion, disapprove strongly of any outside
encouragement to Vietnamese citizens to violate the country's laws.

The ties between Vietnam and the United States have made important
strides over the recent years. We hope that the relations will
continue to be maintained, developed and strengthened towards a
constructive, friendly and cooperative partnership on the basis of
equality, friendship, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

End text of MFA press statement.

3. (SBU) Comment: This statement echoes a similar MFA protest in
October after the Ambassador spoke on the importance of political
freedom during an RFA interview. Embassy officers were told then
that certain GVN officials, especially in the security sector, were
upset with the Ambassador for encouraging those calling for
political change. Press coverage in Vietnamese-language papers of
the Ambassador's latest comments did not include mention of his
remarks to the foreign press on political freedoms (although the
English-language Vietnam News made a brief reference to them). The
Ambassador's statements on bilateral relations and commercial ties
garnered prominent placement in Vietnam's print media. End Comment.


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