This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002692
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL VM APEC HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: VIETNAM: AMBASSADOR PRESENTS HIS CREDENTIALS TO
1. SUMMARY: The Ambassador presented his credentials to
Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong on September 27. Both
agreed that there had been much progress in the nine years
since relations had been reestablished, but there was a need
to continue to broaden and deepen the relationship.
President Luong cited trade and economics, accounting for
Missing in Action and counterterrorism as areas where the
two nations could further develop their relationship and
said that he would like to meet with President Bush in Chile
at the APEC meeting this fall. He asked the Ambassador to
convey this message to President Bush. Noting that
Vietnam's reaction to designation as a Country of Particular
Concern (CPC) had not been positive, President Luong said
that he would have preferred to have a constructive dialogue
to seek better mutual understanding. He and the Ambassador
pledged to seek to discuss differences such as this one in
an atmosphere of mutual respect. END SUMMARY.
2. The Ambassador accompanied by DCM, ECON/C, DATT and PA/C
presented his credentials to President Tran Duc Luong at the
Presidential Palace in Hanoi on September 27. Vice Foreign
Minister Le Van Bang was the senior Foreign Ministry
representative along with officials from the President's
Office and the Office of Protocol.
3. Following the presentation of credentials, the
Ambassador and his party had a twenty-minute audience with
the President. The Ambassador noted that he was pleased to
have the opportunity to serve in Vietnam where the bilateral
relationship was in good shape following significant
progress since normalization. He expressed hope that the
relationship would continue to broaden and deepen. Noting
that next year would be significant since it was the tenth
anniversary of the establishment of relations, the
Ambassador expressed the hope that PM Phan Van Khai would be
able to visit the United States. The Ambassador remarked on
the progress since normalization in trade and investment,
education and culture, counterterrorism and the full
accounting of the Missing in Action. He commented that
there had been many positive transformations since he was
first in Vietnam in the late 1980's. He observed that both
President Bush and Secretary of State Powell had made clear
that they view this relationship to be important and they
hope that ties would continue to strengthen further. The
Ambassador expressed his commitment to work toward this goal
throughout his term.
4. The President responded by thanking the Ambassador for
his words on the bilateral relationship and the future of
relations as well as his commitment to work to better the
relationship. Vietnam attaches great importance to its
relations with the United States both because of the U.S.
role in the world and the shared past on which both sides
need to continue to work, the President said. He went on to
agree that since the reestablishment of relations the
bilateral relationship had moved in a positive direction.
Noting that he was glad to see what had happened since the
reestablishment of relations, President Luong enumerated
several examples such as the signing and implementation of
the Bilateral Trade Agreement, the opening of embassies in
Washington and Hanoi, and the arrival of the third United
States Ambassador in Hanoi. Although the time had not been
long, important steps had been made, the President said.
5. The relationship could be called normal, but not quite
yet comprehensive, the President continued. In many fields
there is more to do. He listed trade and economics,
accounting for the Missing in Action and counterterrorism
cooperation. He also stressed that there was a need to work
for better mutual understanding. To build a long-term
relationship it is important for the government and peoples
of one country to understand the history and culture of the
other. This is especially true for sensitive issues like
ethnic minorities and human rights, the President said. The
two countries need dialogue and exchange of views to avoid
6. The President noted that the Department of State had
recently designated Vietnam as a Country of Particular
Concern regarding religious freedom. The reaction in
Vietnam had not been positive, he added. It would be better
to have constructive dialogue for better mutual
understanding. A comprehensive relationship would benefit
the people of both countries.
7. The President noted that he shared the Ambassador's view
that there had been many positive developments so far and
there was much to do in the future. He added that he hoped
the Ambassadors in Hanoi and Washington and their staffs
would have many initiatives to mark the tenth anniversary.
8. The Ambassador responded that the United States would do
its part to seek to arrange the visit of the Prime Minister
in 2005. He also said that prospects were good that the
President of the United States would come to Vietnam for the
2006 APEC Summit.
9. In response, President Luong noted that he would be going
to Chile for APEC this fall and hoped for a short meeting
with President Bush. He asked that the Ambassador convey
his message to President Bush.
10. Noting that the Ambassador was a career diplomat with
much experience in Asia including in Vietnam in the late
1980's, the President said he was pleased that the
Ambassador had been struck by the many changes since those
days. Vietnam, he said, was also pleased with those
transformations since they are the manifestation of the
right path that Vietnam has chosen. He said he hoped that
the Ambassador would do his part to continue developing
United States-Vietnam relations in order to help Vietnam
develop so that it could give its people a better life.
11. The Ambassador replied that he was encouraged by the
President's accurate description of the work ahead. He
acknowledged that the two countries did have a "history,"
but emphasized that this shared history provides an
opportunity. While no one can change history, our two
peoples can seek to understand history and to build on it.
Because of that history the two countries have and will have
closer relations than if they had not had that history.
Several million Americans have had experience with Vietnam
and over one million others were born in Vietnam but live
now in the United States. These people have a close
connection with Vietnam and can be a force for making the
12. The Ambassador went on to note that CPC was a decision
that the Government of Vietnam did not welcome or accept,
but that he was encouraged that officials of the two nations
could discuss the issue and work on it in a positive way.
Religious freedom is a core issue for the American people,
he stressed. The CPC decision flows from the belief in the
United States that international norms of religious freedom
should be observed everywhere. Clearly the majority in
Vietnam can practice their religious beliefs, but in some
areas of Vietnam there are limits on people's ability to do
so and this is what the United States would like to discuss.
The United States and other countries as well as NGOs want
to work to improve economic and social conditions in places
like the Central Highlands in order to reduce tension over
religion. The Ambassador pledged to do all he could to
ensure that any discussion of religion took place in a
manner of mutual respect. "We should," he said, "be like
brothers who can speak frankly."
13. President Luong replied that he concurred with most of
these views, but on religious freedom, he noted that a
number of Vietnam's 80 million people could practice
different religions. He expressed hope that the Ambassador
would look at the issue in a positive way and agreed with
the idea of discussing in a manner of mutual respect. This
would be in the best interest for the long-term
relationship, he said.
14. The President concluded the meeting by proposing a
toast to good bilateral relations.