Cablegate: A/S Silverberg Consultations with Gvn On Unsc

Published: Fri 9 Nov 2007 09:39 AM
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1. (SBU) Summary: Assistant Secretary for International Organization
Affairs Kristen Silverberg met with Vietnamese officials in Hanoi
November 2 to discuss Vietnam's upcoming role as a non-permanent
member of the UN Security Council. Silverberg reiterated our
invitation for Vietnam to send officials to Washington to consult on
its UNSC seat and laid out the key issues she expected the Council
to face during Vietnam's tenure, including USG priorities Iran,
Darfur, and Burma. She emphasized the importance of approaching
UNSC work pragmatically, not ideologically. GVN officials explained
their preparations for Vietnam's seat on the Council and their
interest in a possible theme of post-conflict reconstruction for
their UNSC Presidency. Vietnam has not reached a decision on
participating in peacekeeping, which remains a sensitive issue given
the country's history and the military's relative lack of
experience. Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem
said he saw Vietnam's UNSC seat as an opportunity to demonstrate our
cooperation, particularly to critics of Vietnam in the U.S.
Congress. End summary.
2. (SBU) International Organization Affairs A/S Kristen Silverberg
held meetings with Vietnamese counterparts in Hanoi on November 2.
Meeting with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh,
Silverberg said it was a dynamic time for U.S.-GVN relations, with
Commerce Secretary Guttierez arriving in Hanoi the next week and a
possible visit to the United States by Prime Minister Dzung in the
next year. Vietnam's UNSC term is a good opportunity to cement good
U.S.-Vietnam relations, Silverberg said. She explained that
although we will not always agree on the council, we want our
relations to be transparent and to avoid surprises. A/S Silverberg
emphasized that the USG hopes to work pragmatically with Vietnam in
a way that avoids ideological divisions.
3. (SBU) A/S Silverberg reiterated the State Department's invitation
for Vietnam to send a delegation to Washington for consultations on
the role of the UNSC before it assumes its seat in January. The
delegation could include officials from the GVN's missions in
Washington and New York as well as those from Hanoi who might
benefit from it. Minh responded that Vietnam wants to have
consultations with the United States as well as other P-5 members
and others, but there is very little time before Vietnam begins its
term. He nonetheless confirmed that Vietnam will consider the
4. (SBU) DFM[f1] Minh handed A/S Silverberg a letter from Deputy
Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Khiem to Secretary Rice expressing
appreciation for USG congratulations on Vietnam's UNSC election. He
said Vietnam's priorities would be counterterrorism, weapons of mass
destruction and regional issues in the Middle East, Africa, and
Asia. Minh said Vietnam is eager for U.S. input on key UNSC issues.
In response, A/S Silverberg said IO could send the MFA papers on
these issues in advance of its Washington consultations.
5. (SBU) A/S Silverberg said Iran would continue to be an issue in
the UNSC. A/S Silverberg described the P5+1 agreement from
September, which commits to action in the UNSC unless IAEA Director
General ElBaradei and EU High Representative Solana report
positively in November. Minh said that, while Vietnam opposes
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and complies with all
UNSC resolutions, it also supports peaceful usage of nuclear power.
As a past victim of sanctions, Vietnam has reservations about their
use as they can harm the people of the country. Silverberg
responded that the U.S. also supports the peaceful use of nuclear
energy, and that incentives had been offered by the P5 to Iran to
allow peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The USG would welcome
Vietnam's input on improving them further.
6. (SBU) On Burma, A/S Silverberg emphasized the need for concrete
improvements rather than process only. She said the U.S. would
evaluate the success of UN Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari's
November trip based on the regime's progress in two areas: 1)
opening a direct dialogue with democracy activists and ethnic
minority groups, and 2) releasing political prisoners. These
benchmarks will determine the USG view on whether further UNSC
action is needed. Minh said that ASEAN continues to work with
Burma's regime on implementing its road-map, but that because
Burma's situation does not threaten the region, the UNSC should not
take Chapter VII action.
7. (SBU) Discussing Darfur, A/S Silverberg stressed that the slow
pace of the peace process makes it critical to deploy rapidly the
hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force to create political space. A/S
Silverberg said that the USG would appreciate the GVN's help, as a
UNSC member, in pressing the UN to deploy the peacekeeping force as
quickly as possible. A/S Silverberg also noted that there is a
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worldwide shortage of peacekeepers and encouraged Vietnam to
participate in the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI).
Minh said Vietnam was seriously considering the idea, but cautioned
that because of their history of foreign occupation, Vietnamese
oppose sending peacekeepers abroad.
8. (SBU) A/S Silverberg also raised the issues of Kosovo's
independence, the Middle East peace process, and Lebanon. On
Kosovo, she noted that the U.S. is engaged in the discussion between
Serbia and Kosovo, though both sides are reiterating their previous
positions. If there is no agreement, Kosovo will likely issue a
unilateral declaration of independence, though A/S Silverberg said a
UNSC resolution on Kosovar independence resulting in UNSC-supervised
independence would be a preferable solution. On the Middle East
Peace Progress, A/S Silverberg stressed the importance of keeping
rhetoric and provocative language out of the UNSC. On Lebanon, A/S
Silverberg credited the UNSC with being a great champion of Lebanese
sovereignty. DFM Minh concluded by saying that the GVN would like
to use its UNSC membership to advance its relationship with the
9. (SBU) At a lunch meeting with Ministry of Foreign Affairs
International Organizations (IO) Department Director Le Hoai Trung
and IO officials, A/S Silverberg noted the tight deadlines that UNSC
delegations often face. Trung agreed that mechanisms must be in
place to deal with these and that Vietnam had conducted a one-year
research project led by Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh
looking at UN issues. Vietnam will divide decision making for its
UNSC delegation into two main levels[f2]: on the more
straightforward issues the Vietnamese PermRep will be empowered to
make statements and voting decisions in the Council as he sees fit,
while on complicated or unexpected issues he will need to consult
with the Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister or the Prime
10. (SBU) Trung said Vietnam has prepared files on the various
issues the Council is likely to face during Vietnam's term. He
noted that some of his colleagues suggested that the DPRK issue be
dropped from the list of active ones, given progress there, but
Trung added that, while he is optimistic, he insisted the DPRK file
be kept up "just in case."
11. (SBU) Vietnam, a pilot country for the One UN program, strongly
supports it, Trung said. A/S Silverberg noted the UN frequently
disregards the role of the private sector, and Trung agreed that
public-private partnerships are vital.
12. (SBU) Trung said Vietnam was considering making post-conflict
reconstruction the theme of its UNSC presidency. A/S Silverberg
said the United States does not necessarily oppose themes but
remains skeptical of their utility given that many of the themes
distract from the UNSC's main work. Post-conflict reconstruction is
an essential issue, Silverberg said, but the UNSC must be cautious
about addressing development issues which are normally handled by
the General Assembly.
13. (SBU) In response to a request from Trung, A/S Silverberg
promised to offer the GVN advice on which committees to join during
its UNSC term.
14. (SBU) In her separate meeting with Bui The Giang, Director
General of the Communist Party of Vietnam's External Relations
Commission, A/S Silverberg recapped USG priorities on the Security
Council, including Iran, Burma, and peacekeeping. Giang said there
was a possibility that he would be picked by MFA to join Vietnam's
delegation in New York during its term on the Council, but that this
was still not confirmed. Silverberg said the U.S. wants a
"practical Council" that can address key issues. Giang said Vietnam
is already thinking beyond traditional issues to be better prepared
to respond. Giang said Vietnam is considering involvement in
peacekeeping, but that this was a sensitive subject given Vietnam's
long history of wars. On Burma, he said that sanctions or embargoes
would be counter-productive and that engagement is a better
--------------------------------------------- -----
15. (SBU) Meeting Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Pham Gia
Khiem, A/S Silverberg gave him a formal invitation to consultations
in Washington with Department officials on UNSC issues. Silverberg
noted that it is clear that Vietnam had done much preparation for
its UNSC seat. Khiem said Vietnam was still learning about its role
as a UNSC member but would work hard to enable the Council to speak
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with one voice. As an Asian country, Vietnam's priorities will be
Asian issues like Burma and the DPRK, Khiem said.
16. (SBU) Turning to the broader bilateral relationship, Khiem said
Vietnam welcomed the visit of U.S. Commerce Secretary Guttierez
November 4-7 and wants to cooperate in all fields. He acknowledged
differences with the U.S. on issues such as human rights and said
Vietnam is working to improve in that area. A/S Silverberg
recognized Vietnam's progress on issues like religious freedom but
said there is more to be done on freedom of assembly and internet
freedom. Khiem said Vietnam wants to maintain a frank and open
dialogue, and he expressed concern that some members of Congress
oppose good relations with Vietnam. Khiem said he hoped that they
would see our cooperation on the Security Council.
17. (U) This message was cleared with A/S Silverberg.
[f1]Is his title Vice-Foreign Minister or Assistant FM (per para
[f2]You only mention two.
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