|Background Briefing in Hanoi, Vietnam|
Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton
MODERATOR: Okay. So we are in Vietnam. We completed our day with the Vietnamese. We are here with [Senior State Department Official] hereafter as Senior State Department Official. [Senior State Department Official] is going to give you little bit of a sense of our day-to-day, and then we’ll complete today and take a pause.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Great. So – and this is all –
MODERATOR: This is on background.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay. So, guys, just a little bit of how to think about sort of what the sessions were like today, probably among all the countries in Asia, the – ironically it is a communist country, it’s Vietnam that has the biggest debates inside the government about the way forward. They have – among some in the more liberal ministries, like the Foreign Affairs Ministry and others – on the economic side, a deep and profound desire to have a much closer relationship with the United States, to improve their lot on human rights, and to take the necessary steps on the economic side to essentially join the international community. In many respects, it’s almost disorienting. So for a certain group of people a little older than us, that experienced Vietnam in a very different way, to interact with people who, more than almost any other nation, want to establish a kind of partnership with the United States is really remarkable.
MODERATOR: Let’s finish on Vietnam, and then we’ll go into a different session and do the going forward.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay.
MODERATOR: Any questions on Vietnam before we go in a different direction?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: You have to make sure the folks command the ground --
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about what the Communist Party – term?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- had to say as far as --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: (inaudible)
QUESTION: -- thank you –human rights issues go?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. I think it would be fair to say that what is fascinating – and again, with the foreign ministry types and others – is that they in many respects are quite sympathetic to our push, and they understand very clearly what’s going to be necessary in terms of Vietnam having a better relationship with the United States. And again, the reason that we want to meet with the folks on the party side was these objections that we hear.
MODERATOR: Anything else on Vietnam?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And I – no – just – and I think, to be perfectly honest, his response – he was uncomfortable in the session, and I think time will tell. But I think the fact that he took the meeting – and I think what we’re seeing are more and more that people on the senior side that I think are coming around a little bit to a recognition that this is going to be necessary for them.
QUESTION: So you guys asked for the meeting? It wasn’t something that he --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Oh, no, we asked. We asked. In fact, it was very hard to see him. He’s not – does not meet – and you can tell when certain folks are not that comfortable in certain meetings, and he clearly – he was fine, but it’s not – he’s not a person I don’t think who’s normally accustomed to someone sitting down and going through human rights issues with him.
MODERATOR: Anything else on Vietnam? Okay.