Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wikileaks 03HANOI785

Wikileaks 03HANOI785
Cộng sản Việt Nam trả tiền và khích động cuộc biểu tình chống Mỹ về chiến tranh Iraq



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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
03HANOI785 2003-03-28 09:48 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Hanoi

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


REF: A. 02 Hanoi 3023 B. Hanoi 702 C. Hanoi 0567

1. (SBU) Summary. Over an informal dinner on March 27, Deputy Foreign Minister Le Van Bang and the Ambassador discussed differences over Iraq and their effect on the bilateral relationship. They also explored ways to move the relationship forward, including a series of high level visits, a possible government/private sector conference in August, and GVN outreach efforts within the U.S. overseas Vietnamese communities. A long time proponent of improving U.S.-Vietnam relations, Bang was ever the optimist about the future of the relationship and the need to separate policy disagreements from a thriving trade relationship. Bang and the Ambassador agreed, however, that continued harsh GVN rhetoric on Iraq and a long war there could well slow down the growth of relations. Given the enduring "special" Vietnam-Ira relationship, however, it is unlikely that the GVN will temper its criticism over Iraq any time soon. Assistant Foreign Minister Nguyen Duc Hung and the DCM also attended the dinner.
End summary.


2. (SBU) Candid discussion on GVN statements on Iraq dominated much of the conversation. The Ambassador informed Bang that Washington was concerned about the harsh and sometimes insulting
language of GVN statements and editorials on Iraq. He warned Bang that if it continued much beyond this week, it would inevitably affect the nature of the bilateral relationship. Vietnam could even be grouped with countries in disfavor with the USG, and that could affect USG programs here.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador also noted a series of actions by GVN officials to limit or postpone contact with American officials and programs. One of the most disturbing, he noted, was the possible snubbing of the American Chamber of Commerce at a major business conference organized by the Office of the Prime Minister in HCMC this week. There, a senior GVN official apparently told the president of AmCham HCMC that he needed to at least mention the Iraq situation in his speech, since many in the audience "did not think AmCham or an American should speak" because of the war.
The private citizen American was understandably confused about a political quid pro quo at a speaking engagement. The Ambassador noted how foolish it was for the GVN to mix disagreement over Iraq policy with business in ways that could discourage Americans from investing and trading here.

4. (SBU) Citing other examples of recent official GVN coolness toward us, the Ambassador told Bang that previously confirmed appointments with the Justice Minister and with provincial officials in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai had been cancelled at the last minute, apparently because of U.S. policy toward Iraq. The DCM noted that a group of GVN environmental officials cancelle their IVG visit to the States at the last minute, apparently because of Iraq.

5. (SBU) Bang recalled that he had informed the Ambassador several weeks ago that the GVN would cancel visits for a short time if the U.S. started military operations in Iraq. He admitted that he was aware of the Ambassador's planned trip to Quang Ngai and Quang Nam, and that the GVN had decided it was not appropriate for provincial officials to meet with the Ambassador at this time because of Iraq. Bang also agreed that it was unwise to let disagreement on Iraq affect the overall business/commercial relationship, and stressed that both countries should continue efforts to make it grow. He stressed that in the long run Iraq should not negatively affect the expansion of U.S.-Vietnam relations.

6. (SBU) In a stretch of logic that neither the Ambassador nor DCM could understand, Bang then attempted to explain why GVN statements on Iraq were actually milder than they could have been. He claimed that GVN statements had referred to "U.S. authorities" (meaning a group of people) rather than the U.S. government as a whole, which would be considered much worse in Vietnamese context. (The actual translation is "powerholders," not "authorities -- ref b.) He stated several times that there were those in the government who did not want Iraq to affect the relationship, but that eterans in senior positions were calling for tough statements. Some people even wanted to go to Iraq to fight. They were the ones driving the policy at the moment.

7. (SBU) Another concern for the GVN, according to Bang, were the demonstrators who spontaneously formed in front of the embassy every day. They were, he claimed, "not under control" and were reflecting popular opinion. Assistant Minister Hung asserted that the GVN could not control them and was worried that they might resort to violence at some point.

8. (SBU) Without quite saying, "Let's get real, folks," the Ambassador pointed out that government television trucks appeared well before the demonstrators did, that demonstrators told the embassy they had received about $1 to participate, and that the GVN had proved itself quite adept at arresting those who were peacefully expressing their views on human rights or democracy.

The Ambassador said that in any event he was not concerned about the demonstrators because the U.S. believed in the peaceful expression of opinion. The concern of the USG, he emphasized, was over the harsh tone of the official commentaries -- by Party organs or the Government -- on the war, the cancelled meetings, and their potential for affecting the relationship if they continued much beyond this week. Later in the conversation, Bang acknowledged that universities and veteran groups had organized many of the demonstrations.

Moving the Relationship Forward - Visits and the Human Rights Act
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9. (U) The Deputy Minister and the Ambassador talked at length about ways to move the relationship forward. Bang raised the timing of upcoming visits to the U.S. by Deputy Prime Minister
Vu Khoan and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. He proposed June/July for Khoan, but observed that the war in Iraq would have to be over by then. The Ambassador suggested informally that September/October might be a good time for the Prime Minister to visit (since it was more than a year before the next U.S. general election). The Ambassador also noted that both sides needed to pin down a date for the visit of the Defense Minister.

10. (U) Bang suggested a new idea to highlight the developing relationship. He proposed holding a symposium on the bilateral relationship in Hai Phong or Ha Long Bay in the first week of August, which would be attended by government officials (Bang suggested DAS Matt Daley and the Ambassador from the U.S. side), businesspeople and NGO representatives. The Ford Foundation had
agreed to fund the symposium and it would be co-organized by the Foreign Ministry's Institute for International Relations (IIR) and an American counterpart, possibly the Asia Foundation.

11. (SBU) To no one's surprise, Bang raised the likelihood of the introduction of a Vietnam Human Rights Act in Congress, a move that "would again affect the bilateral relationship in a very negative way." With that as his cue, the Ambassador spelled out for Bang the recent series of unhelpful GVN actions to arrest or detain a number of prominent Vietnamese for doing nothing more than peacefully expressing their views on human rights and other topics. Among those he mentioned were Nguyen Dan Que, Le Chi Quang, Tran Khue, Phan Que Duong, and Father Ly. With shrugs of apparent frustration, both Bang and Hung lamely asserted that they had violated the law and, in case of Que, had been communicating with U.S.-based groups to "oppose" the GVN. Bang did agree that the timing of Que's arrest could not have been worse.

12. (SBU) The Ambassador informed Bang that the U.S. Mission in Vietnam would grow as the relationship broadened and expanded. He reminded Bang that the Embassy had been waiting more than a month for an appointment to discuss pending visas for staff assigned to new positions in Hanoi and HCMC. While agreeing in principle that the U.S. Mission should and could grow, Bang said that that was not likely to happen until the Department considered the longstanding GVN request for its UN Mission to issue visas. Bang said he wanted two employees at Vietnam's UN Mission to be authorized to issue visas. The Ambassador pointed out that the USG also had a longstanding, unanswered consular issue concerning its request for the GVN to broaden ConGen HCMC's consular district in the south. (Topic covered in full septel.)

Outreach to the Viet Kieu - Will Reconciliation Take Generations?
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13. (SBU) The discussion then turned to national reconciliation and to the overseas Vietnamese communities in the U.S. (the Viet Kieu). Bang observed that while the Viet Kieu who actively opposed the GVN were few in number, they had considerable influence with certain Members of Congress. As a former ambassador to the U.S., he admitted that the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington lacked an effective outreach program to the Viet Kieu, a situation that, he said, stemmed from a lack of depth, training and experience within the Vietnamese Foreign Service.

He agreed that the GVN needed to do more to promote reconciliation with the overseas Vietnamese and said that he would explore ways to assign someone to Washington with the right mix of experience, language, interpersonal, and cultural skills. 

He joked that he might go back for a tour to see his "old friends" in the Vietnamese community in the U.S.

14. (SBU) The Ambassador emphasized to Bang the importance of reconciling with the GVN's overseas Vietnamese detractors. He pointed out that many are very influential and told Bang that Dr. Que's brother was present during his call on Virginia Senator George Allen before he arrived in Vietnam. The Ambassador recounted a rather unpleasant exchange with Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung a few weeks ago when he suggested to Dung that it would help reconciliation if the GVN invited former South Vietnamese leaders like ex-president Nguyen Cao Ky to return for a visit (ref c). At the suggestion, Dung's face, he said, suddenly grew serious and the DPM almos exploded with anger.
With this attitude, the Ambassador told Bang (and Dung), reconciliation would take generations. Bang replied that the Ambassador might have better luck in raising the suggestion with Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan, Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien, former Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Man Cam, than with former military or security men like DPM Dung.


15. (SBU) Despite Bang's continuing optimism and proactive approach to U.S. policy, the GVN is unlikely to heed our warning to temper its troublesome language on Iraq any time soon. The GVN frequently highlights its pre-1975 "special" relationship with Iraq, and those in the GVN and party leadership with wartime experience and suspicion of the U.S. remain influential. 

Nonetheless, the fact that two senior MFA officials agreed to meet and talk with us informally and candidly is encouraging. The dinner meeting, which Bang hosted, was obviously intended to show that Vietnam's relationship with the U.S. remains important. 

Despite deep disagreement over Iraq, we will continue to pursue our programs here and our efforts to expand the relationship in areas that serve our interests.

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