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Cablegate: Exbs Vietnam: Meetings with Border Security

VZCZCXRO7414
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBK #6236/01 3550740
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210740Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1175
RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHDC
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 6448
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0704
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNEXC/EXPORT CONTROL AND RELATED BORDER SECURITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 006236

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR ISN/ECC KCROUCH, EAP/MLS BBLACKSHAW
CBP/INA FOR RWATT
DEPT OF ENERGY FOR NNSA TPERRY
AMEMBASSY HANOI FOR PECKSTROM
CONGEN HCMC FOR ADICKEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC KNNP KSTC MNUC PARM PREL VN
SUBJECT: EXBS VIETNAM: MEETINGS WITH BORDER SECURITY
OFFICIALS


BANGKOK 00006236 001.2 OF 003


SUMMARY

1. (U) EXBS Advisor and local USG officials met with
Vietnamese border security officials in Ho Chi Minh City and
port, at Moc Bai border crossing with Cambodia, and at Border
Guards headquarters in Hanoi, December 3-6, 2007. Vietnamese
officials were uniformly anxious for cooperation and
assistance. Vietnam faces a wide array of transnational
threats, exacerbated by the country's burgeoning economic
development and location along key trade routes. U.S.
assistance can play a valuable role in complementing
Australian, Japanese and European efforts.

HO CHI MINH CITY AND PORT

2. (U) EXBS Advisor and CONGEN officers met with Customs and
Border Guards officials in Ho Chi Minh City. The meeting was
very cordial, with the Customs spokesperson expressing their
pleasure with having the U.S. play a leading role in
counterproliferation assistance. He explained that Customs
and the Border Guards have the lead for border security at
land borders and seaports. Immigration, under the Ministry
for Public Security, has the lead at airports. Most of their
experience is in conventional smuggling and commercial fraud;
countering WMD is a relatively new area for them. They have
little or no equipment with which to detect harmful nuclear,
chemical or biological materials. They fully support U.S.
training and information exchanges, and have good
anti-smuggling cooperation with Australia, including language
training.

3. (U) The Border Guards explained that whereas any cargo
shipments of interest used to have to be inspected
physically, now they can be done virtually via targeting
techniques. Passenger and cruise ships, on the other hand,
are still done manually. They expressed a need for equipment
to help deal with the increased monitoring requirements
associated with Vietnam's rapid economic growth. The Border
Guards' uncovering of cases of weapons and explosives
smuggling have come from intelligence rather than detection
devices.

4. (SBU) Port officials stated that there are twelve
different ports divided into four sections in their district.
Section three handled three billion USD in exports and one
billion USD in imports. There is a wide variety of cargo and
volume is increasing, but staff and equipment are not keeping
pace. The Japanese government wanted to fund an x-ray
scanner at the container port, but there isn't currently
enough space to properly site it. Closed-circuit television
is being added to improve security.

5. (U) A Taiwanese firm has been operating the container
terminal since 1998. Company executives stated that this was
the only private port operation in Vietnam, with 290 staff
and an additional six hundred contractors. Last year the
port handled 450 thousand containers, and they expect a
thirty percent increase next year. Present capacity is 900
thousand TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). They service on
average 22 vessels per week, and use U.S. software. The port
has three berths with a total length of 486 meters. An
additional berth is being added. Unfortunately, wharfside
draft is only ten meters, which limits ship size to 1400
TEUs. Consequently, only regional feeder ships call at the
port. A new deep water port is being built on the coast, due
to open in 2009. Hutchison Whampoa and Singapore Ports are
the main contractors. Draft will be 40 meters, which will
handle ships up to 6000 TEU and allow direct shipments to the
U.S. and Europe. They expect to be able to handle 4300 ships
annually, and up to 100,000 passengers and 20,000
crewmembers. A limiting factor is inadequate transportation
infrastructure connecting the port to Ho Chi Minh City and
the industrial areas in Dong Nai province. Currently only a

BANGKOK 00006236 002.2 OF 003


single 110-km road provides this function.

MOC BAI BORDER CROSSING

6. (U) EXBS Advisor and CONGEN officers traveled to Moc Bai
to meet with security officials at the border crossing into
Cambodia. Both Customs and Border Guards officers welcomed
the visit, and welcomed any assistance that would improve
security without impeding the flow of trade. Officials
stated that to date in 2007, twenty-two thousand vehicles
(approximately eleven thousand in each direction) and 1.2
million people have passed through the checkpoint (11,500
U.S. citizens). Up to 5000 persons transit in a day. Value
of trade is 82.7 million USD. Out of six thousand customs
declarations, there were 204 cases of smuggling and
commercial fraud. From 2002 to 2007, twelve weapons and
ammunition were confiscated, three individuals with 3500
amphetamine tablets were arrested, and several trafficking
cases of Vietnamese and North Korean women were uncovered.
Communication with other crossing points and Cambodian
counterparts is by telephone. Language training in
Cambodian, Laotian and Thai is provided to border officers.
The Australian government has provided equipment for
detecting fraudulent documents, but other requirements exist.
Suggestions were made to share watchlist information,
provide border inspection training and equipment (radiation,
drug and explosives detectors), and provide communications
equipment.

HANOI - MEETING WITH BORDER GUARDS

8. (U) In Hanoi, EXBS Advisor and EMBOFF met with senior
Border Guards officials, who provided a comprehensive
overview of the Border Guards' mission. The Border Guards
was founded in 1959. Initially under the Ministry for Public
Security, they were subsequently transferred to the Ministry
of Defense. Their mission is to manage the border line and
guard against intrusions. They monitor both people and
vehicles crossing the border, and coordinate with local
authorities. The challenge is considerable, given Vietnam's
4570-km land border and 3260-km sea border. Twenty-five
provinces border other countries; twenty-eight provinces have
a seacoast. There are 179 international and national
(bilateral) border crossings, and 145 seaports. The most
common challenges are "non-traditional security threats,"
including smuggling of weapons and drugs, illegal immigration
and trafficking-in-persons. The Border Guards has three
organizational levels: the national headquarters, which
provides management and support functions and reports to the
Ministry of Defense; Provincial Commands; and checkpoints.
The Border Guards also operates patrol ships, which provide
security out to 24 nautical miles and also perform Search and
Rescue.

9. (U) In 2007, the Border Guards processed three million
international visitors, eight million national (bilateral)
visitors, and 700,000 vehicle crossings. At the seaports,
they processed 67,000 ship calls, 386,000 foreign tourists
and one million crewmembers. There were ten cases of false
passports and 586 other violations, including overstaying
visas and other document irregularities. There were 26 cases
of illegal currency transfers, amounting to ninety thousand
renminbi and 400 million VND. There were six cases of
weapons smuggling and hundreds of drug cases. The Border
Guards are appreciative of previous EXBS training and
equipment, and work closely with Customs to facilitate
requests to visit border facilities. Requests for additional
assistance include training on immigration management,
transborder crimes and "non-traditional security threats";
equipment to help secure land and sea borders, including
binoculars, contraband detectors (nuclear, explosives, etc.),
communications systems, and patrol boats; and study visits to
the U.S.

BANGKOK 00006236 003.2 OF 003

10. (SBU) In summing up their remarks, the Border Guards'
Deputy Commander emphasized the importance of working
together against common threats, including sharing
information and coordinating with border officials from other
countries. Improved English language capability is a key
facilitator. Vietnam's proximity to the Golden Triangle and
major transportation routes means it will always face a wide
array of transnational threats. With the Cold War in the
past, the task now is to foster cooperation and trust, to
address common challenges in a collaborative manner.

COMMENTS

11. (U) Border security officials are uniformly cooperative
and anxious for assistance which improves security while
facilitating to increasing trade flows. Australian, Japanese
and European agencies are currently providing different types
of assistance, but Vietnam's rapidly expanding economy and
need to modernize allows for additional targeted efforts.
The EXBS program can provide strategic trade control related
training, such as seaport land border interdiction training,
and basic inspection equipment. The EXBS program advisor
will work with relevant agencies to coordinate additional USG
assistance to meet border guards' needs.
BOYCE

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