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Cablegate: Oog Minister Phuc and Ambassador Discuss Human Rights,

VZCZCXRO2278
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1202/01 3111122
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071121Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0412
INFO RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0170
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 001202

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
SATE FOR EEB/ESC/IEC/ENR
STATE ALSO FOR T(MHUMPHREY), ISN/NESS (ABURKART, PMCNERNEY), ISN/RA (RBEISECKER) AND EAP/MLS
STATE PASS TO NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION (KFOGGIE, JMCLELLAND-KERR, SBURNS)
ENERGY FOR DOE/NE (EMCGINNIS, CWELLING), NNSA/NA-21 (SFRAZER, KAPT, DKOVACIC, SDICKERSON, IBOLSHINSKY, SMOSES, ABIENIAWSKI)
STATE FOR OGAC (AMBASSADOR GOOSBY AND JHOLLOWAY)
HHS/OSSI/DSI PASS TO HHS/OGHA (JMONAHAN/ACUMMINGS/MABDOO), NIH/FIC (RGLASS), SAMHSA, AND FDA (LVALDEZ)
USAID FOR ANE (CJENNINGS, MWARD) AND GH (KYAMASHITA, KHILL)
CDC FOR COGH (SBLOUT), CCID (MCOHEN), AND GAP (DBIRX, RJSIMONDS)
USTR FOR DBISBEE
FOR MLS/EAP MARC FORINO, ZEENAT SYED
STATE PASS TO EPA/OIA (MKASMAN AND KBUCKLEY) AND TO EPA/ORD (KTEICHMAN)
HHS/OSSI/DSI PASS TO OGHA/HHS (JMONAHAN AND ACCUMINGS)
CDC FOR CGH (SBLOUT), NCEH (TSINKS), NIOSH (MSWEENEY), AND NCBDDD (CBOYLE)
HHS/OSSI/DSI PASS TO FIC/NIH (RGLASS AND TCHUNG) AND NIEHS/NIH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM TBIO EAGR ENRG SENV CVIS ASEAN VM
SUBJECT: OOG Minister Phuc and Ambassador Discuss Human Rights,
Biotech, and Nuclear Cooperation

REF: REF A: HANOI 873; REF B: HANOI 1084; REF C: HANOI 827
REF D: HANOI 1124

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary. The Ambassador expressed concern about the
deteriorating human rights situation in an October 23 meeting with
Minister Chairman of the Office of the Government (OOG) Phuc, but
also noted positive areas of the bilateral relationship. The
Ambassador urged the GVN to remove mandatory biotech labeling
requirements in pending draft legislation and quickly approve a
Joint Statement on civil nuclear power. Phuc gave no ground on
human rights. He said the National Assembly (NA) would consider
the U.S. position on mandatory labeling. The GVN would review the
nuclear Joint Statement. Phuc asked for GSP status, requested more
assistance on Agent Orange, and expressed willingness to work with
the U.S. during Vietnam's Chair of ASEAN. Phuc agreed extending
the validity of student visas was important and said he would
discuss the issue with the MFA. End Summary.

2. (U) The Ambassador met October 23 with Nguyen Xuan Phuc,
Minister Chairman of the GVN's Office of the Government to discuss
bilateral issues.

Human Rights and U.S. Mission Staffing
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Noting his upcoming travel to Washington, the Ambassador
said there was growing U.S. concern, including in the Congress,
with GVN backsliding on human rights. Vietnamese actions on human
rights, including the Bat Nha pagoda (Ref A), convictions of
political activists (Ref B), and Decree 97 (Ref C) contradicted
senior GVN officials' statements desirous of improved bilateral
relations. The GVN's unwillingness to approve U.S. Mission
staffing increases also was out of step. At the same time, Deputy
Prime Minister Khiem's recent U.S. visit had gone well and
military, development assistance, and economic and trade ties were
improving. The Ambassador said this mixed picture would color his
Washington discussions.

4. (SBU) Phuc responded that bilateral relations were excellent and
the GVN wanted to improve them further. In November two Deputy
Prime Ministers would visit the U.S. at the same time - a first.
He encouraged a Secretary of State or Presidential visit in 2010.
There was good cooperation on sensitive areas of defense and GVN
administrative reforms and the GVN hoped for additional progress on
trade, economic development, and tourism. On human rights, Phuc
replied in familiar terms. Vietnam had its own specific
circumstances and was moving on the road to human rights and
democracy. People enjoyed more economic freedom than ever before.
The GVN had to maintain law and order and the U.S. Congress's
recent passage of a Vietnam human rights resolution was
"unfortunate." Bat Nha was a dispute between two Buddhist groups
that the two groups should settle. Thousands of new pagodas were
being built throughout the country. Decree 97 was simply part of
the implementation of a science and technology law passed by the NA
and the GVN was reviewing the issue of which organizations would be
affected by the Decree.

5. (SBU) Phuc said he understood the need for additional U.S.
Mission staffing as bilateral relations deepened. MFA had been
directed to respond soon to U.S. requests. (Note: We continue to
press MFA and other agencies, including MPS, to resolve the issue
following DPM Khiem's comment during his meeting with the Secretary
that staffing "no longer would be a problem." End note.)

HANOI 00001202 002 OF 003


Biotech Labeling Requirement
----------------------------

6. (SBU) The Ambassador expressed concern about draft legislation
pending before the NA that required mandatory labeling of products
containing genetically modified organisms. He reviewed the
arguments contained in a recent letter he had sent to Phuc on this
issue. Biotech products were safe. The legislation would
negatively affect food and agricultural trade, raise costs for
Vietnamese food processors, consumers, and government authorities.
It would also harm Vietnam's nascent biotechnology program at a
time when both global food requirements were rising and climate
change could negatively affect crop production, including in
Vietnam. The Ambassador requested the GVN to remove the mandatory
labeling requirement from the draft legislation.

7. (SBU) Phuc responded that he agreed that a labeling requirement
would increase costs for producers and consumers. The GVN was
listening closely to U.S. views and the NA's Science and Technology
Committee was looking closely at the Ambassador's letter. The GVN
was committed to handling this issue consistent with international
practice and its international commitments.

Civil Nuclear Power Cooperation
-------------------------------

8. (SBU) The Ambassador reviewed current bilateral efforts on civil
nuclear cooperation and urged the GVN to quickly review and approve
the Joint Statement on Civil Nuclear Power and Security which was
paired with the Nuclear Cooperation MOU. The Ambassador welcomed
the related news that Prime Minister Dung on October 21 (Ref D) had
signed the decision document authorizing the GVN to move towards
full conversion of the Dalat nuclear research reactor to low
enriched uranium. These steps would allow consideration of a 123
nuclear agreement that would permit greater civil nuclear power
cooperation. Phuc responded that the GVN would review the Joint
Statement positively. He said that the PM's approval of the Dalat
nuclear conversion showed Vietnam's serious commitment towards
cooperation with the U.S. on nuclear non-proliferation. The GVN
wanted to work with the U.S. to develop its civil nuclear power
sector.

PEPFAR and Other Bilateral Issues
---------------------------------

9. (SBU) The Ambassador also asked Phuc, given the multiple
agencies involved in the GVN, to name an OOG contact point for
cooperation on developing the PEPFAR 5-year Partnership Framework
agreement. Phuc replied that the GVN appreciated the PEPFAR effort
and intended to work closely with the Embassy on the 5-year
strategy. He noted that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is the
designated POC for the GVN related to HIV/AIDS, and the OOG has a
small division related to the issue. The Embassy should send a
letter to the OOG if it wanted to change the current main POC from
the MOH to OOG.

10. (SBU) Phuc said that the two sides had discussed the Agent
Orange (AO) problem in Danang since 2007 and the U.S. had allocated
$3 million dollars but without result. The Ministry of Defense
said $40 million was required to solve the AO problem. The GVN
also wanted to work closely with the U.S. during its ASEAN
Presidency in 2010. It hoped the U.S. would provide GSP status and
resolve the catfish issue in a manner favorable to Vietnam. Phuc
said the GVN continued to want to establish an agriculture Working
Group under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks.
The GVN would also do its best to approve major U.S. company
commercial deals, such as Boeing aircraft and AES's proposed power

HANOI 00001202 003 OF 003


project.

11. (SBU) The Ambassador corrected Phuc's description of the status
of AO cooperation, noting that $6 million has been obligated and
remediation work was underway at Danang. Progress has been made
and additional funding might be forthcoming from the Ford
Foundation. In closing, the Ambassador asked for Phuc's
cooperation on extension of student visa validity, currently set at
one year because of Vienamese restrictions, to five or ten years.
Phuc said he agreed that longer validity was important and would
ask MFA to consider this issue.
Palmer

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