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Cablegate: Cpv External Relations Commission Chairman: Hanoi's

VZCZCXRO6848
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1135 2760956
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020956Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8569
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5187
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HANOI 001135

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KCOR KPAO SOCI PREL VM
SUBJECT: CPV EXTERNAL RELATIONS COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: HANOI'S
INTERACTONS WITH PYONGYANG HAVE DROPPED OFF

Ref: HANOI 535

1. (SBU) Summary: On September 30, CPV External Relations Commission
(ERC) Chairman Tran Van Hang told the Ambassador that the Party is
pleased with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's late June visit to the
United States because of the substantive agreements reached. On the
DPRK, the Chairman relayed that Hanoi is disappointed with recent
setbacks in the six party process and has no credible information on
Kim Jong Il's health; interactions between Hanoi and Pyongyang have
dropped off over the last two months. Hang also previewed the
upcoming Party and National Assembly sessions, which will examine
Vietnam's socioeconomic situation. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Meeting with the Ambassador on September 30, Communist
Party of Vietnam (CPV) External Relations Commission (ERC) Chairman
Tran Van Hang said the Party and Vietnamese people have "very
positive" views of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's late June visit
to the United States. The visit, he relayed, was the most
substantive of recent high-level exchanges. The economic,
commercial, educational, environmental and political-military
agreements flowing from the PM's visit show that U.S.-Vietnam
relations are on the right track, Hang declared. Deputy Secretary
Negroponte's September 10-14 visit here helped propel the bilateral
relationship forward even more, the Chairman and Ambassador agreed.

3. (SBU) Turning to the DPRK, Hang said Hanoi is disappointed with
recent setbacks in six party efforts to denuclearize the Korean
peninsula. Hanoi hopes the parties will re-engage soon as dialogue
is the only way to peace, he said. The DPRK is a closed society and
Hanoi has not heard much lately about what is going on inside that
country, he said. The ERC has no solid information on Dear Leader
Kim Jong Il's health condition, he added. Hang said he found the
Dear Leader to be "quite friendly" when he met him last year as part
of the CPV General Secretary's delegation that went to Pyongyang.

4. (SBU) In addition to high-level exchanges, Hanoi has sought to
promote commercial ties with Pyongyang and people-to-people
interactions, although concrete agreements have proven elusive, Hang
continued. Over the last two months, interactions between the two
sides have, for unknown reasons, dropped off, he said. Hang
normally sees a DPRK Embassy representative in Hanoi on a regular
basis, but lately these meetings have not taken place, he said. The
Ambassador responded that the USG appreciates Hanoi's efforts to
bring the DPRK out of its shell.

5. (SBU) Hang said Vietnam's top leaders are preparing for the next
Party plenum, slated to commence on October 2, and National Assembly
(NA) session, which will begin on October 16. (Note: Like many CPV
leaders, Hang is a Central Committee (CC) member and National
Assembly deputy. End note). At the plenum, the 160 members of the
CPV CC will review the socioeconomic situation since the current
leadership took charge in mid-2006, he relayed. Discussion topics
will include Vietnam's high inflation and slower than expected
economic growth in 2008, he said. Economic growth is expected to be
about 6 to 6.5 percent this year, but the NA set a target of 8.5
percent, he explained. At the plenum, the CC will set the direction
for the second half of the current leadership's tenure, he said; the
next Party Congress is slated to take place in 2011.

Comment: More Expansive Second Time
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Chairman Hang seemed more at ease discussing Vietnam's
foreign relations compared to the first time the Ambassador met him
(Reftel). Some local commentators say he is a rising star, although
it is unclear who his patron is within the Party. As head of an
important CPV commission, a CC member and NA deputy, he is well
placed to offer insights on Party thinking on Vietnam's foreign
relations.
MICHALAK

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