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Cablegate: Interior Delegation Joins Assistant Secretary Mcmurray To

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DE RUEHHI #1370/01 3520821
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O 170821Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8875
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5400
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 6565
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001370

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STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, OES/EGC, OES/STC
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE, G/ENV, EGAT/ESP (CHIP BARBER)
STATE PASS TO EPA/OIA (DENNIS CUNNINGHAM AND MARK KASMAN)
STATE PASS TO NOAA/NOS/OIA (JONATHAN JUSTI)
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE/INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS (CYNTHIA MACKIE AND
KELLI YOUNG)
BANGKOK PASS TO RDMA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TBIO SOCI PREL ECON KFLU KHIV VM

SUBJECT: INTERIOR DELEGATION JOINS ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCMURRAY TO
OPEN U.S.-SUPPORTED CLIMATE CHANGE INSTITUTE

1. (U) Summary: From November 17-22, a delegation from the U.S.
Department of the Interior, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary
Timothy Petty, visited Hanoi and the Mekong Delta to promote
U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on responses to climate change. In
Hanoi, a member of the delegation signed the charter for the new
U.S.-Vietnam climate change working group, created during Vietnamese
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's recent visit to Washington in June.
The delegation joined Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment
and Science Claudia McMurray and Ambassador Michalak at the opening
ceremony for the Interior-supported Delta Research and Global
Observation Network (DRAGON) Institute at Can Tho University. Both
events attracted broad and positive press coverage. End Summary.

United States-Vietnam Climate Change Working Group Charter
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (U) At a ceremony presided over by Vice Minister of Natural
Resources and Environment Nguyen Cong Thanh and Ambassador Michalak,
Dr. Gregory Smith, Director of the U.S. National Wetlands Center
within the U.S. Geological Survey, and Dr. Tran Thuc, Director
General of the Vietnam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and
Environment within MONRE, signed the charter for the U.S.-Vietnam
climate change working group under the bilateral Science and
Technology Agreement. Following the announcement of the formation
of the working group during Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's visit
to Washington in June, the two governments selected Smith and Thuc
as co-chairmen. With Embassy assistance, the co-chairs now will
select members for the working group, which likely will hold its
initial meeting in Hanoi next June. Prior to the signing, Vice
Minister Thanh urged additional bilateral cooperation to respond to
the challenges of climate change.

3. (U) At the Ministry of Science and Technology, Vice Minister Le
Dinh Tien reaffirmed his support for the U.S.-Vietnam climate change
working group and for the U.S. Geological Survey-supported Delta
Research and Global Observation Network (DRAGON) Institute at Can
Tho. MOST officials noted overall GVN excitement over the climate
change working group and wanted it to serve as a model for other
working groups under the bilateral Science and Technology Agreement.


NGO Roundtable
--------------

4. (U) To broaden the scope of U.S.-Vietnamese engagement on climate
change, the delegation participate in a roundtable with local and
international NGOs, during which Smith expressed his hope that the
DRAGON Institute could coordinate its efforts with those funded by
other donors and by NGOs. The group also toured the Hanoi dike
system to study similarities and differences between the Red River
Delta and the Mississippi Delta and spoke to a group of school
children about climate change and environmental science.

DRAGON Institute Opening
------------------------

5. (U) On November 20, Assistant Secretary McMurray joined the
Interior delegation and Ambassador Michalak to attend the
commencement of the DRAGON Institute at Can Tho University - the
first of its kind in the world. At the ceremony, attended by over
100 academics and local officials, VIMHE's Thuc expressed the threat
from climate change to Vietnam's significant poverty reduction
successes. The Rector of Can Tho University noted that DRAGON
initiatives could assist Vietnamese climate change adaptation
capacity, boost food security, and improve ecosystem management.
McMurray highlighted DRAGON as an example of U.S. support for
science-based responses to global warming. Ambassador Michalak
emphasized that the DRAGON Institute fit into ongoing U.S.-Vietnam
climate change cooperation and was consistent with overall U.S.
support for Vietnamese health and environmental programs.

Mekong Delta Tour
-----------------

6. (U) Following the DRAGON Institute opening, the Interior

HANOI 00001370 002 OF 002


delegation and their counterparts from Can Tho University toured
shrimp farms, rice farms, agricultural research stations, and
mangrove swamps in Bac Lieu and Soc Trang provinces to gather more
first-hand knowledge of climate change impacts and Vietnamese
responses. USGS will use this information to better tailor DRAGON
products to fit Vietnamese needs, while gaining a clearer picture of
similarities and differences with the Mississippi Delta.

Press Coverage
--------------

7. (U) The delegation's visit to Hanoi and the DRAGON opening
ceremony attracted widespread and positive press coverage on the
critical issues of climate change which is an area of growing focus
in the Vietnamese media. Local and international press provided
detailed reports on the ceremonies for the signing of the climate
change working group charter and the opening of the DRAGON
Institute, emphasizing growing U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation. Hanoi
television also broadcast a report of the delegation's visit to the
local Hanoi elementary school. The Vietnamese press ran stories
over a several day period, in conjunction with pieces covering
Assistant Secretary McMurray's separate itinerary focusing on
wildlife protection.

MICHALAK

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