|Wikileaks:||View 03HANOI373 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||KSCA KTIA TSPL TNGD PREL TBIO OSCI SCUL ENRG OTRA TRGY MNUC VM|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 HANOI 000373 SIPDIS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED DEPT FOR EAP/BCLTV, OES/STC (GGROTH), STAS (NNEUREITER), EAP/RSP, EAP/PD AND OES/PCI DEPT PASS HHS FOR OGHA/STEIGER; NIH/FIC/GKEUSCH; NIH/NIEHS/OLDEN, PORTIER; CDC/OGH/BLOUNT; CDC/CEH/SINKS, BARRETT, NEEDHAM; FDA/OIA/WBATTS DEPT PASS USAID FOR G/ENV, G/H DEPT PASS EPA FOR WFARLAND DEPT PASS OSTP FOR GAINES BANGKOK FOR REO SECDEF ALSO FOR ISA/AP/LSTERN AND ES/WVAN HOUTEN USDA FOR FAA/AO/SSAP/HEUTE, ITP/ODA/SHEIKH NSC FOR BEARDSWORTH E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KSCA, KTIA, TSPL, TNGD, PREL, TBIO, OSCI, SCUL, ENRG, OTRA, TRGY, MNUC, VM SUBJECT: JOINT RESEARCH ON HEALTH/ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF AGENT ORANGE/DIOXIN - AN ASSESSMENT OF VIETNAMESE ATTITUDES SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY 1. (U) This is an action cable. Please see Paragraph 13 below. 2. (SBU) SUMMARY: To date, the Government of Vietnam (GVN) has made little, if any, progress towards achieving the goals set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Hanoi on March 10, 2002, following bilateral meetings held in Hanoi after the International Agent Orange/Dioxin Conference funded by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Embassy believes that this lack of progress reflects the unwillingness of the GVN to allow its scientists to engage in genuinely transparent, open rigorous scientific investigation to determine the true extent of the impact of AO/dioxin on health in Vietnam. We believe that the GVN will attempt to control, disrupt, or block any research project that could potentially produce scientific evidence that refutes the GVN's allegations of broad, catastrophic damage to the health of Vietnamese citizens, especially birth defects. Joint research on the environmental issues will probably be limited to projects that focus on soil sampling and searches for low-cost emerging remediation technologies. Another factor that has hampered overall Vietnamese responsiveness has been the disruption of the leadership and functioning of National Steering Committee 33 (responsible for oversight of all issues related to Agent Orange) that resulted from the creation of the Ministry of National Resources and Environment in August 2002. Despite this assessment, the Embassy advocates continuing the USG effort to promote cooperative scientific research programs, while at the same time taking a straightforward approach to counter the Vietnamese propaganda campaign that hinges on non-scientific, but visually effective and emotionally charged, methodology aimed at laying blame on the USG. Two new proposed projects funded by NIEHS, one in environmental remediation technologies and one in health research related to pregnancy, will provide a gauge by which to further assess Vietnamese attitudes and intentions. END SUMMARY 3. (U) Dr. Anne Sassaman, Director, Extramural Grant Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, visited Hanoi during October 27-31, 2002, to continue the dialogue with Vietnamese counterparts on joint scientific research on health and environmental effects of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin in Vietnam, and to determine status of Vietnamese efforts and attitudes towards pursuit of goals defined in the Memorandum of Understanding signed on March 10, 2002, following bilateral discussions in Hanoi. Embassy/Hanoi EST Officer accompanied Dr. Sassaman to most of her relevant meetings. In November, Dr. Sassaman briefed members of the Interagency Working Group on AO/Dioxin (IWG- AO/D) in Washington on the results of her visit. On January 16, 2003, Embassy EST Officer met with Dr. Nguyen Tien Dung, Director, Office 33, to follow-up on the unresolved issues that had been discussed during Dr. Sassaman's visit. In early February, EST Officer also met with NIEHS officer in charge of organizing an environmental assessment and remediation workshop and the U.S. lead investigator in a joint health research project that has received approval and funding by NIEHS. Embassy wishes to provide the IWG with our observations and assessment of Vietnamese attitudes toward implementation on joint scientific research. 4. (SBU) Although the history of U.S. Government (USG) efforts to engage the Vietnamese in joint scientific research go back as far as 1994, we will look at events over the past two years, beginning in December 2000 at the bilateral meetings held in Singapore. Based on our observations of Vietnamese behavior over the past two years, interaction with key players and observers on the Vietnamese side following the March 2002 International Conference in Hanoi funded by NIEHS, the results of Dr. Sassaman's recent visit, and EST Officer's recent meetings with Office 33, the Embassy's assessment is that the Government of Vietnam (GVN) has no intentions of allowing its scientists to engage in genuinely transparent, open, rigorous scientific investigation to determine the true extent of the impact of AO/dioxin on health in Vietnam. Why? Because, we believe, the GVN will never permit research that in any way might discredit the main theme of its two-decade long propaganda campaign, i.e., AO/dioxin is to blame for a huge range of serious health problems - especially birth defects and mental retardation - of residents of central and southern areas and/or northern soldiers who served there. We feel certain that many responsible GVN and Communist Party officials know that allegations of the extreme degree of adverse impact of AO/dioxin on health are grossly exaggerated and unsupported by any objective measure. Thus, to engage in a truly comprehensive scientific research program would expose the official folly, and place the government in an untenable position. It would also open a Pandora's Box of questions about why the GVN - and more importantly, the Communist Party - has misled its people and focused on demonizing AO/dioxin and failed to carry out appropriate public health programs that could have mitigated other sources of threats to human health. It is our assessment that the GVN will permit only research that they are confident will support and/or lend credence to their claims. Thus, any proposal that includes verifiable measures of exposure, and independent validation of diagnosis, the sine-qua-non of scientific study for health impact assessment, will not be acceptable to the GVN. If there is any uncertainty about the outcome of the research, they will either not approve it or cancel it if subsequent indications imply that the results could contradict their propaganda message. We believe there are Vietnamese scientists who, if given the opportunity, would seek to conduct high quality scientific research. No matter what their motives and intentions, virtually all Vietnamese scientists view joint research with U.S. experts as an excellent mechanism by which to acquire training, equipment, and technology. Why did the GVN finally agree to scientific research? In our view, they realized that agreement to engage in joint research would give the appearance of cooperation with the USG, while at the same enhance their leverage in pursuit of their main objective - financial compensation and support for research infrastructure from audiences sympathetic to their propaganda message. Thus, we believe the GVN's highest priority continues to be waging its ongoing propaganda campaign to morally indict the USG in collaborations with sympathetic members of the broader international community as its highest priority. Engagement in a scientific research endeavor is a secondary, supporting effort of the primary strategy to force the USG to bow to international pressure and in the words of several of the international interlocutors of the GVN's position, "address the chemical holocaust that has been visited on Vietnam - to fully remunerate and premeditate the devastation caused and denied since the 1960's." 5. (SBU) On the environmental side, the Vietnamese probably will not attempt to exert such heavy-handed control because the focus of initial research is to test/evaluate relatively inexpensive emerging soil sampling and remediation technologies in locations where both sides agree there is a high probability of dioxin residue in the soil (i.e., the suspected "hot spots"). The ongoing pilot project between U.S. EPA and the Vietnamese scientists at a suspected hot spot in Danang Airbase is the only ongoing project upon which to judge Vietnamese behavior. We note that permission for the soil samples obtained from that site to be sent back to the U.S. for state-of-the-art testing was not granted until after/after the soil sampling tests in Hanoi demonstrated the high probability of a heavy dioxin residue. We are waiting on the results of the testing in the U.S. and follow-up visits by EPA. The next phase of the "Danang Project" is to seek methods of defining the parameters of a "hot spot" and evaluating/assessing emerging low-cost technologies for a pilot remediation project. The counterpart Vietnamese scientists are enthusiastic about this project. 6. (SBU) The Vietnamese are more willing to study the environmental effects, but we anticipate that there are caveats. We predict they will not participate in or allow studies that would cause problems for their agricultural export industries. Thus, any study that looks at dioxin contamination of food products will only be permitted if it cannot be generalized to types and classes of foods that are only of commercial importance to Vietnam, or in areas that do not have any commercial food production. Thus, it will never be possible to do broad and scientifically useful ecologic studies of dioxin. Second, they will not permit studies that undermine their propaganda campaign. For example, the Hatfield Consultants research report showed that in the areas of heaviest spraying, the AO/dioxin applied by aerial spraying was no longer at levels considered hazardous to health. This finding has never been publicly admitted or commented on by the Vietnamese - and subsequent soil sampling for areas of aerial spraying has not been permitted. 7. (SBU) National Steering Committee 33, the entity responsible for oversight and management of all programs to deal with all issues related to AO, is composed of representatives from at least ten different ministries or equivalent level organizations. The government decree that established Committee 33 is classified "secret"; most or all documents related to AO or the committee's actions are also classified as they are considered to have national security implications. The senior representative from each ministry or agency is a Vice-Minister or equivalent rank. Committee 33 guides/controls the health and environmental research, the internal propaganda campaign, the campaign to acquire foreign donations, etc. Although we do not know the precise mechanisms by which this committee operates, we assume that ministries such as S&T, Natural Resources and Environment, Foreign Affairs, Health, Culture and Information, National Defense, and Public Security as well as the Communist Party Central Committee and the National Assembly play important, key roles in the decision making process. Former Minister of Science, Technology and Environment Dr. Chu Tuan Nha served as the Chairman until he was replaced as Minister in August 2002. Minister Nha, a scientist, was viewed by the Embassy as someone with a generally pragmatic, objective attitude who supported scientific research (but still spouted the party line about "victims" when necessary). In October 2002, Committee 33 Standing Vice-Chairman Dr. Pham Khoi Nguyen, who has now moved from his position of Vice- Minister of S&T to become a Vice-Minister in the newly created Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), told Dr. Sassaman that a recommendation had gone forward to the Office of Government to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) to chair the committee. Dr. Nguyen commented that elevating the chair to a higher level would make the Committee more efficient (presumably because a DPM would have more clout to resolve disputes between ministries). However, in January 2003, the GVN issued a decree appointing Mr. Mai Ai Truc, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, as the new Chairman. Although the chairmanship was not elevated to the DPM level, oversight of Committee 33 was shifted from DPM Pham Gia Khiem, whose portfolio includes S&T and education, to First DPM Nguyen Tan Dung. This shift in oversight of Committee 33 coincided with placement of MONRE under the oversight of DPM Dung. Minister Truc is not a scientist. His academic background is literature; his entire career has been spent working in the Party and/or People's Committee of Binh Dinh Province. Despite Minister Truc's lack of scientific credentials, he has told the Ambassador that he has first- hand experience with the spraying of AO and AO's impact on the environment and health. He said that, in his home province, AO had caused bananas to grow to an enormous size. The poor, starving residents had no choice but to eat this AO-contaminated fruit. As a result, the women had borne many children with birth defects. Minister Truc's comments dovetailed nicely with the Vietnamese propaganda line. The Ambassador responded politely that there could be many other possible causes of birth defects, including deficiencies in prenatal care and the diet of pregnant women, and this potential myriad of factors was the basis for the USG's desire to conduct good scientific research to find the answers. 8. (SBU) In discussions with the Dr. Nguyen Tien Dung, Director of Office 33 (permanent staff for Committee 33), Dr. Sassaman described the process for reviewing/approving/funding research grants submitted to NIEHS. A key feature was the independent peer review to evaluate the quality of the science. Dr. Dung explained that, in the Vietnamese process for research on topics related to AO/dioxin, a proposal would undergo scientific review (not an independent peer review, but one conducted by a government ministry, such as Ministry of Health for health- related research), and then go to Committee 33 for final approval. Committee 33's decision would be based not on the merits of the science and/or potential benefits to understanding the issue, but rather on non-scientific factors and points of view (e.g., internal political, national defense). Both Dr. Dung and MONRE Vice-Minister Dr. Pham Khoi Nguyen frequently used the term "control" when describing Committee 33's role. Dr. Dung explained that data/information related to GVN policy on AO was still considered a "state secret" and water, soil, human tissue/blood samples were also considered to be state secrets. Committee 33's approval would be required each SIPDIS time a scientist wished to send such items out of Vietnam for testing and analysis. In response to a question about the process for obtaining approvals, Dr. Dung explained that even if Committee 33 approved a research proposal that clearly defined parameters of health research (defined geographic area, target population, intended use of samples, etc), approval would not be a blanket approval for the lifetime of the project. Committee 33 would have to approve the shipment of each batch of samples. The authority cannot be delegated to a single senior official or to a sub- committee. This control factor would allow the Vietnamese to stifle a research project at any point. In this context, Dr. Sassaman and Dr. Dung discussed the unresolved issues in the MOU related to: a) the degree to which research findings will be made available to the international scientific community; b) the avenues through which research findings will be published; and c) the process that must be followed for publication approval. Dr. Dung's description of the Vietnamese perception of these issues was that "control" (of information and research findings) was of paramount concern to Committee 33. Dr. Sassaman explained that no credible U.S. researcher would be willing to invest time and effort into a project which could be undermined or whose findings could not be published. Dr. Sassaman stressed that this was not a point to be taken lightly, and Dr. Dung promised to relay her remarks to Committee 33. 9. (SBU) On January 16, 2003, EST Officer met with Dr. Dung to discuss the status of Vietnam's efforts to move forward on the issues discussed with Dr. Sassaman. Dr. Dung offered the following. -- Office 33 has submitted a proposal to Committee 33 and Chairman Truc for establishing a mechanism for general approval for human tissue and blood samples to be sent abroad for testing and analysis. Dr. Dung would not offer an anticipated timeframe for approval. -- Committee 33 has not yet appointed Vietnamese members of a Vietnam-US Joint Advisory Committee, which per the March 10 (2002) Memorandum of Understanding, would be established to define the scope of the joint research program; coordinate the collaborative research program on human health and environmental effects of Agent Orange/Dioxin; and review and approve research content areas under the program. (BEGIN COMMENT: The U.S. members were appointed in the summer of 2002. END COMMENT) -- Dr. Dung advised that Committee 33 had not yet received the Vietnamese text of a joint grant proposal for joint health research project submitted to NIEHS by a U.S. investigator with a Vietnamese Ministry of Health counterpart investigator. (BEGIN COMMENT: During Dr. Sassaman's October 2002 visit, she discussed this proposal with both Dr. Dung and the Vietnamese investigator. At that time, the Vietnamese investigator stated that the proposal was being translated into Vietnamese. Subsequently, in January 2003, the proposal was evaluated via NIEHS's independent peer review board and scored well enough to receive funding. EST Officer informed Dr. Dung that NIEHS would be willing to fund the project only/only after receiving formal confirmation that Committee 33 had approved the project, and the issues of publication and human tissue/blood testing had been resolved. END COMMENT) 10. (SBU) The following is a brief review of GVN actions that tend to support our assessment. --During the December 2000 bilateral talks in Singapore, the Vietnamese delegation spent three days in a failed attempt to get the U.S. side to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which included a U.S. commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to all the "victims" of AO/dioxin as a pre-condition for engaging in joint scientific research. A central theme was "the research has already been done and we already know the results show direct cause-effect relationship between AO/dioxin and the health of Vietnamese people." --The Vietnamese print and visual media consistently conveys the message that there are many "victims" of AO for which the USG should accept responsibility providing humanitarian assistance. The frequency and tone sharpen just before and just after significant events. --The Vietnamese organizers (under direction from Committee 33) refused to allow the international press to attend the March 2002 conference. Following the conference, the main theme of Vietnamese media articles was not related to the science. Rather, the theme was "the USG finally admitted that U.S. military forces had sprayed millions of gallons of AO during the war." --The GVN's consistent, persistent message has been, "we do not need the science to prove a link between AO/dioxin and the health of our people. We already have the proof." This message runs counter to any expression of intent to engage in serious joint scientific research, but it is being parroted by the press (as mouthpieces of the Party and the bureaucracy of government), by government officials at all levels, by educated citizens in all walks of life, and by many international NGOs and other institutions. The success of the propaganda campaign has strengthened the GVN's resolve to continue on that front while at the same time maintaining a faade of willingness to engage the U.S. in scientific research on health effects. --Except for the Danang soil sampling project, the GVN has made no progress towards achieving goals set forth in the March 10 MOU, not even to appoint members to the joint advisory committee that is to provide oversight to define the scope of the overall joint research program; coordinate the collaborative research program on human health and environmental effects of Agent Orange/Dioxin; and review and approve research content areas under the program. The creation of MONRE and the subsequent turmoil caused in establishing a new management team within Committee 33 can explain some of the inertia. However, at the same time, the propaganda campaign was not disrupted. 11. (SBU) As an indicator of the pervasiveness of the Vietnamese position on AO/dioxin, we would like to share the failure of our recent efforts to engage the Vietnamese in a broader effort to look at public health issues that that might be easily resolved. At several points, HHS has suggested to Vietnamese counterparts an affordable and effective national campaign to eliminate cretinism. Multiple sets of national data strongly indicate that cretinism is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation. Hypothyroidism in pregnant women due to lack of iodine has been a national epidemic for as long as the data has been recorded. Multiple surveys have shown prevalence rates of between 15 and 40% of goiter in pregnant women. Various biochemical surveys have documented many pregnant women with no detectable iodine in their urine. This provides conclusive evidence that their baby will be born with a significant mental defect, and in many cases, with severe and profound mental retardation. Off the record, many international public health experts estimate numbers of cretins born each year in Vietnam at a minimum in the tens of thousands. However, we have been unable to get the GVN to engage in a substantive, high priority national program for elimination of this deficiency. There could be various reasons for the GVN's reluctance to start such a program. We understand that it took the World Health Organization many years to convince some African countries to participate in a similar program. However, we must assume that some knowledgeable Vietnamese officials recognize that conducting such a public campaign would lead even the average citizen to wonder if the condition of a vast majority of profoundly retarded children, whose affliction has been blamed on AO/dioxin, could have been avoided easily by pre-emptive remediation of a nutritional deficiency. Here are other examples of easily remediable problems that are given insufficient attention, perhaps because doing so would undermine the AO/dioxin blame game: the high rates of cerebral palsy in the general population due to birth injury, the epidemic of liver cancer due to chronic active hepatitis because of poor medical practices and inadequate blood screening. Both of these conditions are routinely blamed on AO/dioxin. Parenthetically, we also note a similar approach taken to another significant issue of disability in Vietnam - the issue of UXO. The government makes every attempt to use this to generate sympathy and funding, especially with the international community, and often links the two issues of AO/dioxin and UXO together to maximize the effect of demonizing the US for the "holocaust" of the Vietnam War (a term that is constantly used by the GVN and their international sympathizers). The GVN never mentions that much of the UXO resulted from their own military and guerilla operations in the affected provinces and any attempt to quantify this is always stopped immediately. 12. (SBU) Pending Projects By Which to Gauge Vietnamese Attitudes and Intentions: a. (SBU) On 7 February, EST Officer and NIEHS officer Dr. William Suk met with the two lead Vietnamese scientific investigators in the Danang Soil Sampling Project being conducted jointly with U.S. EPA. Dr. Suk is taking the lead in an NIEHS plan to organize a workshop in Vietnam to explore new, emerging technologies related to environmental assessment and remediation. This workshop would be the first step in the next phase of the Danang Project already discussed between EPA and the counterpart Vietnamese organization for this project, the National Center for Natural Science and Technology (NCST). The Vietnamese investigators were very excited about the potential for this workshop, and offered the use of NCST facilities. However, they emphasized that GVN and Committee 33 approvals would not be automatic. They expressed optimism that Dr. Dang Vu Minh, Director General, NCST (and a member of the Communist Party Central Committee and a member of the National Assembly), who was tasked by the GVN to manage the Danang Project, would support the workshop. b. (SBU) On 8 February, EST Officer met with Dr. David Carpenter, School of Public Health, University of New York at Albany, who is the lead U.S. investigator on a joint research project with the Hanoi Medical University related to effects of AO/Dioxin on pregnancy. In January 2003, this project was approved by NIEHS for a 3-year grant. NIEHS is withholding release of funds pending receipt of formal notification that Committee 33 has approved the proposal without substantive changes. Dr. Carpenter was in Hanoi to meet with the lead Vietnamese investigator. (COMMENT: Embassy suggests that the IWG seek more details on the project from NIEHS. END COMMENT) Dr. Carpenter, having expected some obstacles related to funding issues, was upbeat after his conversations with the Vietnamese investigators. However, as noted in Paragraph 9 above, this proposal has not been yet been submitted to Committee 33 for approval. The lead Vietnamese investigator did not mention any problems related to obtaining approval for shipment of blood samples to the U.S. and predicted approval would be granted for the overall project by April 2003. EST Officer and Dr. Carpenter discussed the potential for Committee 33, even after granting general approval, to interfere with the efficiency of the research. (BEGIN COMMENT: On 7 February, one of the NCST investigators in the Danang Project, who was familiar with the Carpenter project, voiced the opinion that Committee 33 would never approve a project which allowed all blood samples to be shipped to the U.S. for analysis. The investigator cited ongoing problems (mainly lengthy delays) in obtaining Committee 33's approval to ship soil samples to the U.S. and third countries. END COMMENT) Embassy views this project to be a litmus test to evaluate the GVN's willingness to pursue good science and demonstrate its intentions towards health research on the AO/dioxin issue. This is a pioneer endeavor. 13. (SBU) The USG must decide how to address the issue of scientific cooperation, since it is now clear that the GVN is unwilling to engage in any real scientific cooperation and will undercut the effort to serve its propaganda objectives. We feel that ignoring this situation will have the probable outcome of continued success on the part of the Vietnamese in engaging the broader international community to exert pressure on the USG to remediate and remunerate all the "victims." The issue is how to address this. We encourage the IWG and others in the USG to focus on this issue. -- The Vietnamese are succeeding at their longstanding propaganda campaign. We need to counter the disinformation with valid, scientifically documented information. We should challenge bogus, slanted journalism - both vernacular and international - with factual, objective responses that expose the fallacies of the GVN propaganda and describe other potential factors that contribute to the health problems that the Vietnamese attribute solely to AO/dioxin. Silence or bland, non- specific responses will only tend to "confirm" the disinformation in the eyes of the audience. We should publicize our efforts to engage and support the Vietnamese in joint scientific research, and expose foot dragging and/or efforts by the GVN (Committee 33) to stymie the progress of a worthwhile project. We should not hesitate to respond to efforts to attribute all maladies to AO/Dioxin by noting the large number of Vietnamese who are victims of their own government's inability to provide them with adequate nutrition, quality medical services and protection from environmental. The Embassy cannot accomplish this alone. Our Public Affairs Officer, with support from the new HHS officer (not yet selected) who will serve as Embassy Health Attach, needs support to deal with Vietnamese propaganda campaign and the constant barrage of queries from the international media. Embassy requests that the IWG, with support from NIH/NIEHS, prepare a concise summary on dioxin, which Embassy and other agencies involved in the AO/Dioxin issue can use as a basis for talking points that address key questions related to dioxin and what the international scientific community knows about it. Our intent is that this would provide sufficient factual, objective information that would demonstrate why the USG has taken the position that there are many unanswered questions about the health effects, and justify our call for further scientific research to determine how much, if any, adverse impact AO/dioxin has had on health in Vietnam. In other words, we need to be able to counter the Vietnamese position that exposure to dioxin, no matter under what circumstances and at what levels, eliminates all other possible causes of a health problem. This document would also serve as a primer for the uninformed, particularly the press who tend to focus solely on the fact that dioxin is a persistent organic pollutant linked to health problems. -- The Embassy is not advocating that we turn our backs on sincere, genuine efforts to pressure the Vietnamese to engage in serious scientific research. We advocate continuing a proactive approach to demonstrate to all stakeholders that we want the March 10 MOU to be a framework for advancing science, not just a piece of signed paper that serves as "evidence" for the Vietnamese propaganda machine to prove that the U.S. accepted blame for spraying herbicides during the war and by default accepted the allegations of causing catastrophic damage to the health of hundreds thousands of Vietnamese citizens. Embassy will support the U.S. agencies (NIEHS, EPA, CDC) in all phases of the Danang Project, including the new initiative on exploring remediation technologies, and the health research project currently awaiting Committee 33 approval. We will try to "push the right buttons" from the Office to Government down to the functional agencies in the Vietnamese bureaucracy to keep up pressure for implementation of these projects. --Embassy expects the soon-to-be assigned Health Attach to take the lead in promoting cooperation in health research by supporting NIEHS programs and by interacting closely with the appropriate counterparts in the Ministry of Health and the medical universities. BURGHARDT
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