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Bush arrives in Vietnam for regional summit

U.S. President George W. Bush opened a visit Friday to the wartime capital of this once-divided country, a trip that is stirring inevitable comparisons between the unpopular war in Iraq and the divisive conflict fought and lost in Vietnam more than three decades ago. Vietnamese officials greeted Bush and his wife, Laura, at the airport on humid and breezy morning. Two young girls, wearing flowing traditional dresses, presented them with bouquets of flowers.

Bush's itinerary promised some interesting moments. Before attending a state dinner Friday evening, Bush was to drop by the headquarters of the Communist Party to talk with its general secretary. Bush was the fourth U.S. president to visit Vietnam, where communist forces prevailed over the United States and a Washington-backed regime in Saigon in a conflict that claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. President Clinton visited Vietnam in 2000; Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon made wartime visits.

Bush and his aides have pushed back against comparisons of the war here and the Iraq war, now in its fourth year. Like Vietnam, the United States faces a determined insurgency in Iraq; both wars have demonstrated the limits of U.S. power. On Air Force One as it flew to Hanoi, White House press secretary Tony Snow dodged discussion of the Vietnam War, either its lessons for Iraq, or Bush's personal interest in visiting a country that once so divided the United States.

Source: CNN
Tags: Bush Iraq War Vietnam
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