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Cablegate: Ambassador Lays Out Priorities with Foreign Minister

VZCZCXRO7247
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #1579/01 2471641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041641Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6261
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3634
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001579

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV SOCI VM

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR LAYS OUT PRIORITIES WITH FOREIGN MINISTER

HANOI 00001579 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) On August 31 Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
Pham Gia Khiem welcomed Ambassador Michalak to Vietnam and stressed
the importance of continued progress in bilateral relations. During
the cordial 40-minute meeting, the Ambassador emphasized areas of
common interest and prioritized issues of ongoing concern such as
human rights, legal and economic reform as well as the status of the
Peace Corps, a new Embassy compound, and Vietnam's future role as a
non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. End Summary.

WELCOME TO VIETNAM
------------------

2. (SBU) Khiem, who was recently reappointed as Foreign Minister in
addition to his position as Deputy Prime Minister, opened the
meeting by welcoming the Ambassador to his new position and added
that, despite recent history, the two countries have a strong desire
to move forward to the future and increase bilateral ties. Khiem
highlighted the fact that President Bush's visit to Vietnam during
last November's APEC summit and the June visit by President Triet to
the United States have brought both countries closer together and
quoted the 2006 U.S. - Vietnam Joint Declaration, "it is important
for our two countries to establish broad-based foundations and
deepen in a progressive manner."

3. (SBU) There is no reason bilateral relations should not progress
and we hope to learn more from you in the area of science and
technology, Khiem said. He added that issues of concern still exist
but can be overcome by dialogue and continued frankness and honesty
among friends. He cited Ho Chi Minh's declaration of freedom, taken
directly from the United States Declaration of Independence, as
evidence that both countries have many things in common and can
overcome issues of concern through understanding.

4. (SBU) The Ambassador responded by thanking Khiem for welcoming
him to Vietnam during such an exciting time as the country is filled
with great opportunity. The Ambassador agreed that both countries
want peace and security for their people and want better education
in a complex world.

HUMAN RIGHTS
------------

5. (SBU) The Ambassador said both countries have the same goals -
human rights for all people, but at times have different ways of
approaching it. He added that Vietnam has made progress in the
areas of human rights and religious freedom but this is still an
area of concern and we look forward to continuing our frank
discussions on this issue. The Ambassador added that he appreciated
that the government realized how important it was for US Embassy
staff to be able to meet with human rights dissidents on a regular
basis. "The more we are able to meet, the more information we are
able to share on the status of dissidents with our colleagues in
Washington."

6. (SBU) In emphasizing this point, the Ambassador noted that a
DRL-detailee was able to meet with a democracy activist only the day
before without incident. However, the next day Embassy staff
received false news reports from an Internet human rights site that
police broke up the same gathering and eight democracy activists
were escorted to a local police station. This is not the case and
we were able to report the facts back to Washington. The Ambassador
said it would be in Vietnam's own interest to have a free press
which could easily respond to incorrect news reports with the facts.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: BUY BOEING
--------------------------------

7. (SBU) The Ambassador highlighted the progress both countries have
made in cooperation on anti-corruption, transparency and good
governance issues and said further promotion of economic development
between the two countries is also a priority. The Ambassador urged
progress on a bilateral trade and investment agreement, which will
bring about greater development in multiple sectors and create a
welcoming environment for investors in Vietnam. The Ambassador
added that Vietnam's goal of enhancing its infrastructure,
especially transportation, is a lofty goal and urged the GVN to
consider purchasing Boeing airplanes as Vietnam Air replenishes its
fleet.

EDUCATION: PEACE CORPS CAN HELP
-------------------------------

8. (SBU) After recently returning from the 15th Anniversary of the
Fulbright Program in Hue, the Ambassador underscored the need to

HANOI 00001579 002.2 OF 002


make education a priority and deepen relations in this field. The
Ambassador pledged his commitment to double the number of students
from Vietnam seeking to study in the United States. He added that
there are a number of government programs available to aid students
but that private corporations are also interested in promoting such
programs. The Ambassador noted that having Peace Corps in Vietnam
teaching English could help address Vietnam's educational needs, and
added that with our two countries very close to an agreement we
would like to close the deal as soon as possible.

NEW EMBASSY, MIL-MIL, AND UNSC
------------------------------

9. (SBU) The Ambassador expressed appreciation for the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs lead in helping to secure a new embassy. He
stressed the need for new facilities and offered to be of assistance
as the government of Vietnam makes its own plans to open a consulate
in the United States.

10. (SBU) The US and Vietnam are building a strong relation as
partners in search and rescue operations, the Ambassador said, with
deeper cooperation possible between the two militaries.

11. (SBU) The Ambassador said the United States looks forward to
welcoming Vietnam as a non-permanent member of the United Nations
Security Council as another step for Vietnam to enter in the world
stage. He added that the international community will look to
Vietnam as a vital partner in discussing matters such as North
Korea, Iran and other issues that will come up before the Security
Council.

12. (SBU) DPM Khiem end the meeting by stating that the priorities
the Ambassador laid out are indeed areas where the two countries
will make progress and said he looked forward to discussing them
in-depth in the very near future.

MICHALAK

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