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Reacting to Bush, Vietnam focuses on present

Vietnamese fought for "a righteous cause" during the war with the United States but preferred to focus on the present, a government spokesman said Thursday in reaction to President Bush's speech comparing the Iraq and Vietnam conflicts.
/ Source: Reuters

Vietnamese fought for "a righteous cause" during the war with the United States but preferred to focus on the present, a government spokesman said Thursday in reaction to President Bush's speech comparing the Iraq and Vietnam conflicts.

"The war leaves consequences that are still visible today, and so are our memories," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Dung said at one of his twice-monthly media briefings.

"But as a nation with a tradition that treasures peace, we are determined to not forget the past but value the present and look forward to a better future with other countries including the United States."

Dung was asked to comment on a speech by Bush on Wednesday in which he argued for American perseverance in Iraq by placing the unpopular war in the historical context of U.S. experiences in Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Bush delivered the speech on Wednesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Mo.

Missed the mark?
Some historians, analysts and Bush administration critics said Bush missed the mark by suggesting that if U.S. forces had stayed longer in Vietnam in the 1970s, there would have been less killing or a different outcome.

Vietnam was unified in 1975 after the Americans withdrew troops and communist North Vietnam overthrew the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government.

The Communist Party has ruled as the sole political party since then and Hanoi has forged a friendship with its former enemy, founded mostly on business and economic ties. Bush visited Hanoi last November and President Nguyen Minh Triet reciprocated by going to Washington in June.

"About the war by the United States in Vietnam, we all know that Vietnamese people went to war to defend our motherland and therefore for a righteous cause," the government spokesman said.

After the briefing, Dung said, "What we hope is that the situation in Iraq will be in good order and the Iraqi people will do their best to rebuild the country."