INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Gvn Presidential Visit to North Korea

Published: Mon 13 May 2002 07:33 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
2002HANOI01181 - UNCLASSIFIED
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DS-00 EB-00 EXME-00 E-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 LAB-01
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OCS-03 OES-01
OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00
P-00 SCT-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 STR-00
TEST-00 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 R-00 EPAE-00 ECA-00
PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
SWCI-00 /016W
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FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6423
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY SEOUL
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ABLAGG//
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001181
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ETRD PHUM VM KN KS DPRK
SUBJECT: GVN PRESIDENTIAL VISIT TO NORTH KOREA
REF: A. 01 HANOI 2967 B. HANOI 932
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. PRESIDENT TRAN DUC LUONG'S VISIT TO
NORTH KOREA (DPRK) PROVIDED ANOTHER AT LEAST COSMETIC
INDICATOR OF THE CONTINUING THAW IN BILATERAL RELATIONS.
WHILE THE TWO COUNTRIES SIGNED A NUMBER OF AGREEMENTS, MOST
APPEAR TO HAVE LITTLE PRACTICAL APPLICATION. THE
PROBABILITY OF ANY MAJOR GVN MEDIATION ROLE BETWEEN THE TWO
KOREAS APPEARS LOW. THE SUBJECT OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS
ARRIVING IN VIETNAM VIA CHINA REPORTEDLY WAS NOT RAISED WITH
PRESIDENT LUONG. CONDITIONS AROUND PYONGYANG APPEARED TO
SOME IN THE DELEGATION AS MARGINALLY BETTER THAN TWO YEARS
AGO. END SUMMARY.
-----------------------------------------
SEVERAL AGREEMENTS, BUT WHAT DO THEY MEAN?
-----------------------------------------
2. (U) VIETNAM'S PRESIDENT TRAN DUC LUONG VISITED THE DPRK
MAY 2-5, WHERE HE MET WITH NATIONAL DEFENSE COMMISSION
CHAIRMAN KIM JONG-IL AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME
PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY PRESIDIUM KIM YONG-NAM. GVN FOREIGN
MINISTER NGUYEN DY NIEN, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF THE
PRESIDENT NGUYEN CANH DINH, AND JUSTICE MINISTER NGUYEN DINH
LOC TOOK PART IN THE DELEGATION, ALONG WITH MINISTER OF
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT LE HUY NGO, CONSTRUCTION
MINISTER NGUYEN MANH KIEM, AND TRANSPORT MINISTER LE NGOC
HOAN. SENIOR DPRK COUNTERPARTS INCLUDED FOREIGN MINISTER
PAEK NAM-SUN AND TRADE MINISTER YI KWANG-KUN.
UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 03 HANOI 01181 01 OF 02 130742Z
3. (U) LUONG'S VISIT FOLLOWED THE OCTOBER 15-19, 2001
GVN/DPRK JOINT ECONOMIC, SCIENTIFIC, AND TECHNOLOGY
COMMITTEE MEETING IN PYONGYANG (REF A), THE FIRST SINCE
VIETNAM OPENED BILATERAL RELATIONS WITH SOUTH KOREA IN 1992,
AS WELL AS A SERIES OF HIGH LEVEL VISITS IN 2000 AND 2001.
THE INCREASED CONTACTS ARE IN LINE WITH VIETNAM'S GENERAL
POLICY OVER THE PAST DECADE TO "BE FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE."
4. (U) THE TWO SIDES SIGNED A NUMBER OF AGREEMENTS DURING
THE VIST, INCLUDING:
--A TREATY ON LEGAL COOPERATION IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES
BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES;
--AN AGREEMENT ON THE PREVENTION OF DOUBLE TAXATION AND
INCOME TAX EVASION;
--AN AGREEMENT ON MARITIME TRANSPORTATION; AND,
--AN AGREEMENT FOR IMPROVING BILATERAL TRADE, INCLUDING
BARTER TRADE.
5. (SBU) LE VAN CU, MFA DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR THE ASIA I
DEPARTMENT (WHO ACCOMPANIED PRESIDENT LUONG TO THE DPRK),
TOLD POLOFF ON MAY 10 THAT THE AGREEMENTS SIGNED DURING THE
"LANDMARK" VISIT REFLECTED THE "STRONG AND TRADITIONAL"
BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP. CU ADMITTED THAT THE ECONOMIC
AGREEMENTS MIGHT NOT HAVE "MUCH VALUE NOW, BUT WILL SERVE AS
A PATH TO FUTURE COOPERATION." WHEN PRESSED, CU WAS UNABLE
TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC BILATERAL TRADE FIGURES, BUT ADMITTED
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TWO-WAY TRADE IS "NEGLIGIBLE." CU NOTED THAT VIETNAM HAD
ALSO DONATED 5,000 TONS OF RICE TO NORTH KOREA, A "SMALL,
SYMBOLIC" AMOUNT EQUIVALENT TO WHAT VIETNAM HAD DONATED LAST
YEAR. CU SAID VIETNAM WOULD LIKE TO DONATE MORE, BUT "WE
ARE ALSO A POOR COUNTRY." HE ADMITTED THE DPRK STILL OWES
USD 10 MILLION TO VIETNAM FOR A 1996 RICE "SALE." CU SAID
HE DID NOT KNOW WHEN THE DPRK WOULD REPAY THIS DEBT, DUE TO
ITS "DESTITUTE" ECONOMIC SITUATION. HOWEVER, CU CLAIMED
THAT THE VIETNAMESE PEOPLE "UNDERSTOOD THE HARD SITUATION IN
THE DPRK" AND ARE "FULLY SYMPATHETIC."
6. (SBU) ACCORDING TO ONE ROK EMBOFF, THE ECONOMIC
AGREEMENTS ARE "QUITE MEANINGLESS," SINCE THE DPRK HAS
"NOTHING TO OFFER VIETNAM." THE EMBOFF ALSO SAID THE IDEA
OF "BARTER TRADE" IS "UNREALISTIC" FOR THE SAME REASON. HE
DISCOUNTED REPORTS OF SOME CEMENT AND/OR COAL COMING INTO
VIETNAM FROM THE DPRK. HE STRESSED THAT LUONG'S VISIT, OR
THE THAWING TREND IN GVN/DPRK RELATIONS IN GENERAL, WOULD
NOT HAVE ANY NEGATIVE IMPACT ON VIETNAM'S "STRONG"
RELATIONSHIP WITH SOUTH KOREA.
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SUBSTANTIVE GVN MEDIATION ROLE UNLIKELY
---------------------------------------
7. (SBU) AS NOTED IN REF B, THE GVN HAD INDICATED NEW
WILLINGNESS TO ACT AS A NORTH-SOUTH MEDIATOR DURING THE ROK
UNCLASSIFIED
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ACTION EAP-00
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CA-01 CEA-01
CIAE-00 COME-00 CTME-00 C-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00 SRPP-00
DS-00 EB-00 EXME-00 E-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 LAB-01
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OCS-03 OES-01
OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00
P-00 SCT-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 STR-00
TEST-00 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 R-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00
PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /016W
------------------AD7BCB 130743Z /38
R 130733Z MAY 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6424
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY SEOUL
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ABLAGG//
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HANOI 001181
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 02 HANOI 01181 02 OF 02 130742Z
PRESIDENT'S RECENT VISIT; PRESS REPORTS HAD ALSO SPECULATED
ON SUCH A POTENTIAL ROLE FOR VIETNAM. THE ROK EMBOFF AND CU
SEPARATELY DOWNPLAYED THIS LIKELIHOOD, HOWEVER. ACCORDING
TO THE EMBOFF, VIETNAM, AS A SOCIALIST COUNTRY, IS "PROBABLY
NOT SUITABLE" TO BECOME SERIOUSLY INVOLVED IN SUCH AN
EFFORT, OTHER THAN TO "PASS MESSAGES" BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES.
THE MFA'S CU SAID THAT HE VIEWED AN ACTIVE MEDIATION ROLE AS
"IMPROBABLE." HOWEVER, HE NOTED THAT PRESIDENT LUONG HAD
INDEED PASSED A MESSAGE TO HIS HOSTS FROM SOUTH KOREA'S
LEADERSHIP CONCERNING THE ROK'S DESIRE FOR "PEACEFUL
NEGOTIATIONS" ON THE ISSUE OF KOREAN REUNIFICATION, A GOAL
THAT VIETNAM "FULLY SUPPORTS," CU EMPHASIZED.
-----------------------
CONCERN OVER DEFECTORS?
-----------------------
8. (SBU) PRESS REPORTS HAVE SUGGESTED THE LEGAL
COOPERATION AGREEMENT MAY HAVE BEEN A REACTION TO AN
INCREASING NUMBER OF DPRK DEFECTORS COMING THROUGH THE PRC
ATTEMPTING TO USE VIETNAM AS A TRANSIT POINT TO SOUTH KOREA.
THE ROK EMBOFF ACKNOWLEDGED THIS INCREASE IS "PROBABLY A
CONCERN TO THE DPRK," ALTHOUGH HE WAS UNABLE TO PROVIDE
SPECIFIC NUMBERS. THE MFA'S CU CLAIMED, HOWEVER, THAT THE
ISSUE OF POTENTIAL NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS ENTERING VIETNAM
DID NOT COME UP DURING LUONG'S VISIT AND THAT THE GVN DID
NOT CONSIDER THIS ISSUE IMPORTANT.
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UPCOMING VISITS
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PAGE 03 HANOI 01181 02 OF 02 130742Z
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9. (U) THE MFA'S CU SAID PRESIDENT LUONG HAD INVITED KIM
JONG IL TO VISIT VIETNAM, WHILE KIM INVITED COMMUNIST PARTY
OF VIETNAM GENERAL SECRETARY NONG DUC MANH TO VISIT THE
DPRK. CU SAID THE RESPECTIVE INVITATIONS WERE ACCEPTED
"HAPPILY," ALTHOUGH NO DATES HAVE BEEN DETERMINED FOR EITHER
VISIT.
----------------------------
CONDITIONS MARGINALLY BETTER?
-----------------------------
10. (SBU) CU, WHO LIVED IN THE DPRK FOR 12 YEARS AND HAS
MADE NUMEROUS TRIPS THERE THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, SAID
CONDITIONS APPEARED "A LITTLE BETTER" SINCE 2001. THERE
WERE A FEW MORE LIGHTS BURNING AT NIGHT, COMPARED TO A VISIT
HE MADE IN 2000 WHEN THE STREETS WERE NEARLY DARK AFTER THE
SUN SET. WHILE HE DID NOT HAVE MUCH TIME TO WALK AROUND, HE
NOTICED A FEW VERY SMALL MARKETS, APPARENTLY NEW. BURGHARDT
UNCLASSIFIED
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