Viewing cable 04HANOI2870
Title: EAP DAS Huhtala's October 21 Meeting with Senior

04HANOI28702004-10-22 04:36:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 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 
SUBJECT:  EAP DAS Huhtala's October 21 Meeting with Senior 
Vice Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung 
¶1. (SBU) Summary:  During an October 21 meeting with Senior 
Vice Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung, EAP Deputy Assistant 
Secretary Marie Huhtala underlined the need for Vietnam to 
take concrete steps to improve its religious freedom 
situation, particularly in the run-up to next year's events 
to commemorate the tenth anniversary of bilateral relations, 
including the hoped-for visit to the United States of Prime 
Minister Phan Van Khai.  VFM Phung replied in familiar terms 
that Vietnam had already taken many positive and 
"appropriate" steps in this area and will take more as 
necessary.  DAS Huhtala stressed the USG's support both for 
the continued implementation of the Bilateral Trade 
Agreement and Vietnam's WTO accession.  In spite of progress 
in trade and other areas, however, law enforcement 
cooperation remained lacking, DAS Huhtala said.  For its 
part, MFA sought greater law enforcement cooperation with 
other countries and hoped that the United States itself 
would provide greater cooperation in dealing with anti- 
Vietnam "terrorists" still in the United States.  DAS 
Huhtala informed VFM Phung that the Department had passed on 
to the White House the GVN's request for a Presidential 
meeting in Santiago in November.  End Summary. 
¶2.  (SBU) Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia 
and Pacific Affairs Marie Huhtala met October 21 with Senior 
Vice Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung.  The Ambassador and 
Pol/C also attended.  VFM Phung opened by congratulating DAS 
Huhtala on the assumption of her new position and underlined 
that both countries would be busy in the coming months as 
they prepared to mark the tenth anniversary of the 
normalization of bilateral relations in 2005.  DAS Huhtala 
observed that much in Vietnam has changed since her last 
visit, and, since normalization, the United States and 
Vietnam have made a great deal of progress through signing 
and implementing the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), 
cooperating in the efforts for fullest possible accounting 
of POW/MIAs and expanding humanitarian and development 
¶3. (SBU) With trade ties continuing to grow and political 
relations increasingly substantive, VFM Phung expressed his 
satisfaction with the current state of relations.  Both 
countries now have to focus on building a "framework" to 
sustain the continued development of ties to serve both 
countries' peoples and governments.  However, there is also 
business to attend to in the bilateral relationship, VFM 
Phung continued.  With next year's anniversary approaching - 
- and a possible visit by PM Phan Van Khai in the offing -- 
both sides have to make efforts to create a "good 
atmosphere."  Recalling his September conversation with the 
Deputy Secretary, VFM Phung said that Mr. Armitage had 
expressed his support for a PM Khai visit in the first 
quarter of 2005.  For its part, Vietnam's leadership will 
have to make a decision on the visit and its timing. 
Religious Freedom 
¶4. (SBU) The Deputy Secretary's support for a successful 
visit by the Prime Minister reflects the position of the 
USG, DAS Huhtala said.  Having a successful visit, however, 
requires our addressing issues in the areas of human rights 
and religious freedom.  VFM Phung rejoined that, even if 
these issues were resolved, other issues would rise up in 
their place.  There is no such thing as a 100 percent 
perfect relationship, he continued, but what is important is 
bilateral cooperation and how the United States and Vietnam 
approach the problems facing them.  For example, on the 
issue of Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designation, we 
have to realize that there are differences between our two 
countries in how we approach this issue.  Vietnam 
understands that there is an American domestic angle to this 
issue, just as Vietnam itself has a domestic angle.  If the 
United States and Vietnam desire good relations and seek to 
create a "good atmosphere," both sides have to make sincere 
efforts, VFM Phung stressed. 
¶5. (SBU) Even though there has been some progress in the 
area of religious freedom, resolving this issue requires 
further efforts and close bilateral cooperation, DAS Huhtala 
said.  Vietnam could make a positive impact by taking 
certain concrete steps.  The International Religious Freedom 
Act has the requirement for potential economic sanctions if, 
after 90 or 180 days, we have not seen progress on the part 
of Vietnam.  Although we still have time, Vietnam must 
nonetheless act.  We understand that the GVN is preparing 
the implementing regulations for the new Ordinance on 
Religion.  Strong language in those regulations banning 
forced renunciations would make a significant impression, 
DAS Huhtala said. 
¶6. (SBU) Vietnam has never had a policy that forbids people 
from following their religious beliefs, VFM Phung responded. 
Furthermore, Vietnam's Constitution protects the people's 
right to practice or not practice religion freely.  It 
should be clear that there have been a number of 
improvements recently in the religious freedom situation in 
Vietnam.  DAS Huhtala replied that, while it is important to 
have a strong legal framework in support of religious 
freedom, it is equally important for local officials to know 
the government's laws and policy so as to not violate 
religious rights.  If there were any such violations, the 
local officials would surely be investigated and, if 
necessary, punished, VFM Phung retorted. 
¶7. (SBU) Recalling his conversation with International 
Religious Freedom Ambassador John Hanford, Phung relayed 
that the Ambassador had said he was not yet satisfied with 
Vietnam's efforts.  But Vietnam cannot satisfy everyone.  It 
had been very difficult for Vietnam to take the step to 
promulgate the new Ordinance on Religion.  Nonetheless, if 
further changes are required, Vietnam will make the 
necessary changes in the future.  The United States has to 
see the "nature" of the actions Vietnam has taken and cannot 
expect complete satisfaction all of the time.  The GVN 
respects freedom of religion and understands that it has to 
take steps and will continue to take steps.  However, in 
devising its policy, the GVN also has to rely on Vietnam's 
"actual circumstances, the people's psychology and society's 
conditions."  It is not easy, but "things are getting better 
and better," Phung stressed. 
Trade:  BTA and WTO 
¶8. (SBU) DAS Huhtala noted that BTA implementation is going 
well.  VFM Phung responded that Vietnam expects that the USG 
will support Vietnam's WTO accession and, through continued 
good cooperation, will implement further the BTA.  Vietnam 
had already concluded its bilateral WTO talks with the EU 
and hopes to do the same with the United States "soon."  The 
USG has a strong will to make the BTA work and, as the 
Deputy Secretary said, we support Vietnam strongly in its 
WTO aspirations, DAS Huhtala noted.  Although there will 
always be issues requiring our attention -- such as 
intellectual property rights, a problem that is shared by 
all in the region -- we will continue to work out our 
Law Enforcement Cooperation 
¶9. (SBU) DAS Huhtala noted that, while there has been 
progress in many areas, bilateral law enforcement 
cooperation is not going well.  This is one area that is not 
where it should be, and United States and Vietnam need to 
work together more closely.  Law enforcement cooperation is 
especially important in light of the Global War on Terror, 
and one way to improve our relationship in this area is 
through the better sharing of information.  VFM Phung 
replied that MFA hopes to see greater cooperation in the 
security area.  Vietnam's position on terror is clear, and 
Vietnam is making progress in its cooperative 
counterterrorism efforts with others in the region, Phung 
¶10. (SBU) For Vietnam's part, it also seeks greater 
cooperation from the United States in the area of law 
enforcement cooperation, Phung continued.  For example, 
there are anti-Vietnam "terrorists" in the United States 
such as Nguyen Huu Chanh and Vo Van Duc, the latter of whom 
"should be extradited."  There was the also the recent case 
of shots fired on two occasions into a Vietnamese Consulate 
General employee's residence in San Francisco, Phung added. 
DAS Huhtala replied that the Department had asked the FBI to 
look into Chanh and that the USG is working on the Vo Van 
Duc case.  In the case of the shots fired in San Francisco, 
the Department requested the San Francisco Police 
Department's assistance, and there are indications that the 
shots were a result of random violence.  These incidents 
showed the necessity of bilateral law enforcement 
cooperation and the importance of sharing information, DAS 
Huhtala said. 
¶11. (SBU) MFA encouraged Vietnam's security forces to work 
with the police and law enforcement agencies of other 
countries, VFM Phung noted.  During the ASEM-5 Summit, 
Vietnam had excellent cooperation with "others," and, 
fortunately, there were no security incidents during the 
meeting.  Vietnam will continue to cooperate with other 
countries in the region to both share information and do 
whatever is possible to combat terrorism, Phung stressed. 
APEC 2004 
¶12. (SBU) In closing, DAS Huhtala told VFM Phung that the 
Department had conveyed to the White House Vietnam's request 
for a meeting between the President and Vietnam State 
President Tran Duc Luong in Santiago.