Viewing cable 04HANOI351

04HANOI3512004-02-10 04:07:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED 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 
¶1.  SUMMARY:  During Staffdel Flickner's visit to Vietnam 
January 10-15, the delegation met with the Office of the 
Government (OOG), during which its Vice Minister 
expressed his appreciation for U.S. assistance, requested 
continued support, and asked for continued dialogue on 
human rights and religious freedom.  The Staffdel also 
visited USAID development partners and projects in Hanoi, 
Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City.  END SUMMARY. 
¶2.  A Congressional staff delegation from the House 
Appropriations Committee (HAC) led by Charles Flickner, 
Clerk of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, visited 
Vietnam January 10-15 to review U.S. foreign assistance 
programs.  The delegation also included John Blazey, HAC 
Professional Staff Member, and Paul Kelly, Assistant 
Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.  The stop in 
Hanoi followed a visit to Da Nang and preceded a separate 
stop in Ho Chi Minh City, where they visited assistance 
projects.  In Hanoi, the Staffdel met with OOG Vice 
Minister Nguyen Quoc Huy, as well as representatives of 
USAID-funded projects, the American Chamber of Commerce, 
the United Nations Development Program, and the Vice 
Chairwoman of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs 
¶3.  After commenting on the recent improvements in the 
U.S.-Vietnam relationship, OOG Vice Minister Huy 
recognized the active participation of the U.S. Congress 
in this positive development.  He further stated that he 
appreciated U.S. technical assistance, which he termed 
"efficient."  Among other responsibilities, VM Huy chairs 
the GVN steering committee for the USAID-funded Support 
for Trade AcceleRation (STAR) project.  This program, 
which assists forty-two central and local government 
offices to implement the GVN's commitments under the U.S.- 
Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), works on a 
demand-driven basis, with the steering committee 
prioritizing requests for assistance.  Although this 
process could become burdensome, VM Huy praised its 
efficiency.  (Note: Through the STAR project's assistance 
to the GVN in implementing the BTA, it is helping to 
write or re-write Vietnamese laws and, among other 
things, increase the system's transparency, improve rule 
of law, and create a level playing field for U.S. 
companies.  For further discussion on this subject, see 
septel on Staffdel McCormick.  End Note.) 
¶4.  Given the success of this program, the GVN has 
requested that it be broadened and deepened, he said. 
Specifically, during Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan's 
recent meeting at USAID Washington, to which VM Huy 
accompanied him, a preliminary agreement was reached to 
extend STAR to 2005 and create a new project on accession 
to the World Trade Organization (WTO).  According to VM 
Huy, Vietnam's seventh WTO working party was successful, 
with many participants supporting Vietnam's accession 
bid. (Note: VM Huy attended the working party, as did 
Econ/C.  End Note.)  VM Huy assured the delegation of 
Vietnam's active preparation for the next round and 
reasserted Vietnam's stated goal of acceding to the WTO 
in 2005.  Towards this goal, VM Huy requested technical 
assistance in WTO negotiations and Congressional 
influence on the USTR to have sympathy regarding 
Vietnam's bid as a developing country.  He further stated 
that the GVN would like the U.S. to send a delegation to 
Vietnam for WTO bilateral negotiations.  Following 
accession, the GVN would ask for U.S. assistance in 
implementing its WTO commitments, including work on 
amending the country's legal system. 
¶5.  Maintaining that the GVN values all U.S. assistance, 
VM Huy suggested two specific next steps for cooperation. 
First, he asked that a Bilateral Agreement for Economic 
and Technical Cooperation be signed between the U.S. and 
Vietnam.  Second, he suggested that U.S. and Vietnam 
negotiate an agreement that would outline a long-term, 
stable future for the relationship including official 
exchanges and consultation between officials.  Such a 
mechanism would encourage the development of an enduring, 
deep trust and the formation of common strategies.  The 
delegation responded that it would forward these 
suggestions to the appropriate officials in Washington. 
(Note: Embassy is about to beginning negotiations with 
the GVN on a bilateral agreement on economic, technical 
and humanitarian assistance.) 
¶6.  The Staffdel also highlighted the need to resume a 
dialogue on human rights and religious freedom in order 
to ensure continued U.S. technical assistance.  In 
response, VM Huy stated that the GVN wants an open, 
"equitable" discussion with the USG on these issues as 
well as more Congressional visits in order to compare 
actual conditions with reports.  He asserted that Vietnam 
has twenty million religious believers and that the 
number of followers is increasing.  However, those who 
"abuse" religion for other purposes must be punished, VM 
Huy said. 
¶7.  In Da Nang, the delegation had the opportunity to 
visit World Concern Development Organization's (WCDO) 
vocational training for adolescents with disabilities 
program.  WCDO has been operating in Vietnam with USAID 
assistance since the mid 1990's.  The members traveled to 
three informal training sites, where employers receive a 
small stipend and support to train adolescents with 
hearing and mobility impairments in various vocations. 
The visits included one seamstress who is hearing 
impaired, one hairdresser/makeup artist who was paralyzed 
from polio, and two disadvantage youth who are learning 
TV repair. The very employers who have trained these 
young students often hire them. 
¶8.  In Ho Chi Minh City, the delegation met with 
representatives of the city's HIV/AIDS Committee.  They 
described a situation where cases were rising 
dramatically, with nearly 1 percent of pregnant women at 
the city's primary maternity hospital testing positive 
for HIV and 3.4 percent of new military recruits.  These 
numbers are much higher than for the country overall. 
They noted that while the local committee was bringing 
together various agencies to try to deal with the 
problem, their resources were extremely limited.  For 
example, no funding was currently available for anti- 
retroviral drug treatments for HIV-positive individuals. 
¶9.  The delegation also visited a rehabilitation center 
for young drug addicts where 1500 youth are serving two- 
year terms.  While the group did not tour the entire 
facility, the areas that they saw were clean and well 
maintained, and they observed residents working and 
engaging in various vocational training activities.  The 
delegation indicated that for a group of drug addicts, 
the residents looked surprisingly healthy.  Not 
surprisingly, HIV/AIDS is an issue here as well. 
Officials estimate that about 50 percent of the center's 
population is HIV positive.  Testing is done on a random 
basis and residents are not advised of their status. 
Local officials claim that they follow this policy 
because they worry that anyone known to be HIV positive 
would have trouble integrating into the center's 
population and eventually into society.  When asked by 
the delegation if condoms were provided to the young 
residents of the facility, the warden answered that since 
sexual activity was not permitted at the center, condoms 
were not distributed and were unnecessary. 
¶10.  This cable was cleared by Charles Flickner.