ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
President Bush went to a Christian church service this morning in Hanoi, Vietnam. He was accompanied by the First Lady, and he spoke briefly to reporters in the courtyard outside the Catholic Church in Hanoi's old French Colonial District.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Laura and I just had a moment to converse with God in a church here in Hanoi. We were touched by the simplicity and the beauty of the moment. We appreciate very much the congregation for allowing us to come and worship with them. A whole society is a society which welcomes basic freedoms, and there's no more basic freedom than the basic - the freedom to worship as you see fit.
SEABROOK: That's President Bush in Hanoi this morning, where he's been attending the summit with leaders of 21 Asian Pacific nations. APEC is an economic summit, but much of the discussion has been on how to deal with the nuclear threat posed by one nation that isn't in attendance, North Korea.
NPR's Don Gonyea joins us now from Ho Chi Minh City.
Don, the president was looking for a strong statement on North Korea out of this. Did he get what he wanted?
DON GONYEA: For the most part, yes, he did. There was an agreement by these 21 nations that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons and that United Nations sanctions should be fully enforced if it does. It's interesting though, Andrea, there was considerable debate today in Hanoi over what the form of that statement should be. At first it was assumed it would be a written statement as part of the official summit documents. Ultimately it turned out that it was not written but it was delivered orally to the closing session of the summit.
The White House was asked if it was okay with that? A written statement would seem to be stronger, but the White House says, yes, this is acceptable. It puts APEC on record here.
SEABROOK: Has President Bush spent much time on this trip outside the formal agenda of the summit? I mean, we just heard him at this church in Vietnam.
GONYEA: He has been mostly inside the bubble. For the most part, he has interacted with the people of Vietnam only from his motorcade. Now, his national security adviser, Steven Hadley, was asked about that yesterday, if it sends a good signal, the president kind of always, you know, being shuttled around with police escorts and all that. And he said the president has done lots of waving. He's gotten lots of smiles back, and that he has indeed gotten a sense of the warmth of the Vietnamese people. But again, from inside his car.
SEABROOK: This is Mr. Bush's first ever trip to Vietnam. He was in the Texas Air National Guard when he was in his 20s and didn't draw duty in Vietnam. Don, what stands out for you as you've watched him there over the past three days?
GONYEA: A couple of things. There was kind of an awkwardness for him in dealing with the legacy of the war when he was asked about it. He was asked what the lessons are. And he said that history shows that nations' relationships can change, but he really didn't address, you know, the thing that so divided the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Also hanging over everything are the comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War.
There was one other very, very interesting moment. The president met with the secretary-general of the Communist Party. They posed for pictures with a giant bust of Ho Chi Minh looking down on them. That's the kind of picture you never really quite expect to see.
SEABROOK: Don, the APEC Summit is over. Quickly, what do you expect in this next leg of the trip in Indonesia?
GONYEA: The final leg is in Jakarta. And while we've been in very controlled places so far - Vietnam and Singapore - Jakarta, they are expecting huge angry protests. The Secret Service is concerned about what that means. The president is only spending a few hours there. He's not even spending the night.
SEABROOK: NPR's Don Gonyea with the president in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
GONYEA: A pleasure.
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