Cablegate: Gvn Turns Down Automatic Extension of 99 Year Nec Lease
DE RUEHHI #1399/01 3571025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221025Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8921
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5419
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 001399
STATE FOR U/SM KENNEDY, OBO/AM/EAP, OBO/RE/EAP/EX/MLS,
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ABLD AMGT KREC VM
SUBJECT: GVN TURNS DOWN AUTOMATIC EXTENSION OF 99 YEAR NEC LEASE
REF: a) U/S Kennedy E-Mails to Amb Michalak Dated December 16 and
17 b) Hanoi 1341 c) State 108269 d) Hanoi 1147
1. (SBU) Summary and Action Request: The GVN has once again
unequivocally stated that they cannot agree to any formula for
extending NEC lease terms beyond the maximum of 99 years for
diplomatic organizations permitted by their Land Law, and the 99
year term for the future USG NEC site specified in our 1995
bilateral agreement with Vietnam regarding transfer of diplomatic
properties. They also unambiguously rejected the possibility of
providing a monetary value for a second term of 99 years in the NEC
lease agreement. In light of these developments, Embassy requests
clearance on a non-paper revised from that originally proposed in
Hanoi 1341 that is partly based on the language contained in a
non-paper the GVN presented to the Embassy on December 18. End
Summary and Action Request.
2. (SBU) On December 17, the Embassy sent to the MFA a non-paper
that included questions from U/S MGT Patrick Kennedy in his December
16 e-mail regarding the possibility of extending lease terms beyond
99 years. They were:
--Is the problem with the 99 + 99 year term, i.e., two terms of 99
years? Would a 40 year lease with four 40 year renewals be an
--Is the problem with a 99 + 99 year lease that the United States
Government would not pay anything for the second term? Could an
agreement be written so that the U.S. Government makes a nominal
payment, say $1 or $100 for the follow-on 99 year period?
--Is there any alternative formulation that the Vietnamese
Government would accept that would lengthen the term beyond 99
3. (SBU) DCM Virginia Palmer, accompanied by MGT/C Robert Riley,
met with MFA Americas Division Deputy Director General Le Huy Hoang
December 18 to seek the GVN's answers to these questions. An
obviously ruffled Hoang reported that the GVN was "insulted" that we
had not moved forward from the meeting on December 4 (reftel).
The GVN, in turn, was considerably less tractable about NEC site
provisions than had been the case during the December 4 meeting.
Instead of answering the questions contained in the Embassy December
17 non-paper, the GVN presented a non-paper that appears to
backtrack dramatically from the December 4 meeting (see paragraph
4. Begin text of GVN non-paper:
1. The Government of the Socialist Republics of Viet Nam and the
Government of the United States of America agreed to create
favorable conditions for the settlement of matters regarding
diplomatic properties of Viet Nam in the U.S. and those of the U.S.
in Viet Nam.
The Vietnamese side takes note of the Diplomatic Note No. 1261/08
dated October 15, 2008 and other points exchanged by the US Embassy
in Ha Noi thereafter regarding the settlement of diplomatic
properties of Viet Nam in the U.S. and those of the U.S. in
2. In conformity with the current laws, conditions, and proceedings
from the needs of each country, considering the principle of
reciprocity and other requirements towards the construction of
diplomatic premises for each country, the Vietnamese side wishes to
propose the following options for the US further consideration:
2.1 To apply the principle of the national treatment: In
accordance with its laws, the U.S.A. shall permit Viet Nam's
freehold right purchase of diplomatic properties (house/lands) in
the U.S. for the construction of its diplomatic missions' chanceries
(in Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, Houston, and in other
places in the future as needed). In accordance with its laws, Viet
Nam shall permit the U.S. side to lease land site as needed for the
U.S. diplomatic missions in Viet Nam. Accordingly, the Vietnamese
side agrees to permit the U.S. side to lease the land area X4 of
40.060m2 in the Ciputra site for a period of 99 years and will
consider extension for another period of 99 years at the time when
the first 99-year land lease terminates.
At the time of 10 years before the first 99-year lease terminates,
both sides shall negotiate towards the extension of the land lease
for another 99 years in conformity with Viet Nam's laws, conditions
and practices at the time of the new land lease contract.
2.2 To apply the principle of reciprocity: the Vietnamese side
requests the U.S. side to permit Viet Nam the right to purchase and
have freehold ownership of lands/properties in the U.S. with total
areas equivalent to the US's currently owned land/properties in Viet
Nam. Based on the mutual Agreement on transfer of diplomatic
properties signed on January 28, 1995, the total areas of
lands/properties of the U.S. in Viet Nam are about 23,000m2 and Viet
Nam's current properties owned in the U.S., is about 1,700m2. At
the same time, the U.S. side shall facilitate favorable conditions
for Viet Nam to lease land site/houses in the U.S. with total areas
HANOI 00001399 002 OF 003
that the US shall be able to lease in Vietnam, which would ensure
security and good location as well as other requirements with the
same lease period of 99 years and the lease shall be considered
extention (sic) for another 99 years with the lease costs to be
regulated by the U.S. Government in conformity with its laws
regulations and practices.
End Text of GVN December 18 Non-Paper
5. (SBU) DCM followed up with a telephone call to MFA Director
General for the Americas Nguyen Ba Hung, pressing again for answers
to the non-paper questions and noting concern that the MFA's
position of December 4 had crystallized into a non-paper. During
the December 4 meeting, the GVN agreed to the principle of
reciprocity (thus a lease limited to 99 years) for their diplomatic
properties in the U.S.; and to the guaranteed extension of a second
99 year term for USG properties, with negotiation on price to occur
ten years prior to the expiration of the first 99 year term. The
GVN non-paper reversal to form of requesting freehold for their
properties in accordance with national law, and the conditional
nature of the second 99 year lease term was unexpected, she
stressed. Hung was considerably more forthcoming than Hoang,
although he was unequivocal in stating that anything beyond a 99
year lease term for the NEC site would not be feasible. He also
rejected the possibility of building into the agreement a monetary
value for the second 99 year lease term. Hung said the MFA did not
understand our neuralgia over lease longevity, saying cryptically
"we anticipate major changes in Vietnam in the next 99 years."
6. (SBU) Paragraph 2.2 of the MFA non-paper derives from a GVN
position regarding land reciprocity put forth by Hung during the
December 4th meeting that was subsequently put aside during that
meeting as unworkable, and not in accordance with the bilateral 1995
agreement on the transfer of diplomatic properties. We were
surprised to see this proposal in the GVN non-paper, and take its
appearance as a measure of the GVN unhappiness with the Embassy's
non-paper of December 17.
7. (SBU) We believe that the GVN will not agree to specify a
monetary value, nominal or otherwise, for a second 99 year lease in
a NEC site agreement. An alternative approach would be to build a
clause in the agreement that would specify that, in accordance with
reciprocity, any additional monetary value assessed against the
property for a second 99 year lease term for the USG would also be
assessed against the GVN. In order to get the NEC negotiations back
on track and moving forward, the Embassy requests clearance on a
revised non-paper, using some of the basic wording included in the
MFA non-paper, but adding other points contained in Hanoi 1341.
8. (SBU) Begin suggested text:
To apply the principle of reciprocity: In accordance with
reciprocity, the U.S.A. shall permit Vietnam to lease for 99 years
the sites of its diplomatic properties (house/lands) in the U.S. for
the construction of its diplomatic missions' chanceries (in
Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, Houston, and in other
places in the future as needed). In order to facilitate the rental
of the properties of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the United
States, the Department of State's Office of Foreign Missions will
oversee and facilitate the rental of these properties. In
accordance with its laws, Viet Nam shall permit the U.S. side to
lease land as needed for the U.S. diplomatic missions in Viet Nam.
Accordingly, the Vietnamese side agrees to permit the U.S. side to
lease the land area X4 of 40.060m2 in the Ciputra site for a period
of 99 years and will extend the lease for another period of 99 years
at the time when the first 99-year land lease terminates.
Ten years before the first 99-year lease terminates, the lease will
be extended for another 99 years in conformity with Viet nam's laws,
conditions and practices at the time of the new land lease contract.
Any additional costs requested for a second 99 year lease term
would be applied equally to the two sides.
The United States of America agrees to pay 28 million dollars to the
Socialist Republic of Vietnam for 4 hectares of X4 land in Ciputra
Westlake Development, based on a fee simple equivalent lease and
transferability of rights, which will be paid in one installment.
The United States of America will agree to pay to Ciputra Westlake
Development a firm, fixed reasonable infrastructure cost within a
range of 20 percent of 3.8 million dollars.
In accordance with Vietnam's 2003 Land Law, the United States shall
be entitled to transfer the right to use the leased site
corresponding to the paid lease period and properties owned by the
U.S. side on the leased site to a third party in accordance with the
laws of Vietnam and the area planning at the time of transfer.
Should the laws of Vietnam change to provide for freehold ownership
of land, the USG properties in Vietnam, and the Socialist Republic
of Vietnam properties in the United States will be automatically
converted to freehold status.
HANOI 00001399 003 OF 003
End suggested text.