P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: The U.S. and Vietnam have agreed to stay a "forward looking" course in their expanding relationship.

This was decided by U.S. President George W. Bush and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Minh Triet on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that began in Hanoi on Saturday.

A joint statement reflected the objective of the U.S. to move beyond the legacy of the Vietnam War.

Mr. Bush, now under fire at home over his Iraq policy, held the talks in the shadow of political comparisons between his troubles in West Asia and the defeat in Vietnam nearly three decades ago.

For Mr. Bush, another diplomatic dilemma was the failure of U.S. Congress, on the eve of his Hanoi visit, to approve permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Vietnam.Mr. Bush reassured Mr. Triet on the PNTR.

Will of the world

Mr. Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun agreed "to effectively enforce the will of the world" in regard to the existing sanctions on Pyongyang and the demands that it give up its atomic arms programmes and eliminate the weapons it already possesses.