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Cablegate: Vietnam and Vatican Promote Diplomatic Relations

VZCZCXRO6279
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #1748 2771521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041521Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6462
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3771
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0028

UNCLAS HANOI 001748

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/IRF, AND DRL/AWH

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

SUBJECT: VIETNAM AND VATICAN PROMOTE DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

REF: A) HANOI 275; B) HANOI 1109; C) HANOI 1461


JOINT WORKING GROUP TO MEET IN ROME WITHIN ONE MONTH
--------------------------------------------- -------

1. (SBU) The Government of Vietnam (GVN) has agreed to the
establishment of a long-awaited Joint Working Group (JWG) to develop
official diplomatic relations with the Holy See. At an October 3
introductory call at the Ministry of Home Affairs' Committee on
Religious Affairs (CRA), CRA Chairman Nguyen The Doanh told the
Ambassador the first meeting of the JWG will be held in Rome in late
October or early November. Each state's party to the JWG will be
led by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Vice-Minister. The
Vietnamese delegation will be led by a yet-to-be-named MFA
Vice-Minister and include the Director of the CRA's Catholic
Department and another MFA officer. The JWG will establish
principles and a roadmap leading toward development of official
diplomatic relations.


CULMINATION OF 17 YEARS OF VISIT EXCHANGES
------------------------------------------


2. (SBU) Doanh explained to the Ambassador that it was always the
GVN's intention to have relations with the Vatican and the Catholic
Church, noting that even during the war period, the GVN supported
the Church's relations with the Vatican although it did not always
have good relations with the Catholic Church in Vietnam. He
explained that since the first visit of a Vatican Cardinal in 1989,
the GVN and the Vatican had set up a mechanism of visit exchanges
leading to 15 total visits since 1990: two visits from the GVN to
the Vatican, and 13 visits from the Vatican to Vietnam (the last in
March 2007).

3. (SBU) Through these visits, Doanh explained, the GVN and the
Vatican have increased mutual understanding and discussed important
issues, including: the ordination of Bishops, training of priests,
travel of Catholic clergy in Vietnam, charitable activities by the
Church, and the Vatican's global relations. The January 2007 visit
by GVN Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung to Pope Benedict XVI and
Vatican Prime Minister Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in Rome launched a
new period of cooperation, according to Doanh.

MICHALAK

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