Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-546-0054
HANOI, Vietnam, Nov. 17 /Standard Newswire/ -- The following text is of remarks by President Bush in an exchange of toasts at a state banquet:
International Convention Center
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, and Madam Chi, the reason I'm smiling is because I'm really happy to be here. And so is Laura. And we thank you for your warm hospitality. First, I want to congratulate you for your success on hosting APEC. I'm confident our fellow leaders will have the same sense of gratitude and respect that we feel from the Vietnamese people.
Vietnam is a remarkable country. For decades you had been torn apart by war. Today the Vietnamese people are at peace and seeing the benefits of reform. The Vietnamese own their own businesses, and today the Vietnamese economy is the fastest growing in Southeast Asia. Vietnamese students have great opportunities here at home and abroad. The Vietnamese people are traveling around the world and sharing this ancient culture with peoples of the world. And the United States, as well as other APEC partners, look forward to strengthening our ties.
The American people welcome the progress of Vietnam. And we want to continue to work together to better our relations. We will work with you to help combat avian flu and HIV/AIDS. We have signed agreements to protect religious freedom. We strongly support Vietnam in the World Trade Organization.
Vietnam is a country that's taking its rightful place as a strong and vibrant nation. Mr. President, your leadership is helping your country succeed. I can see it as I drive on the streets, the people of your country have hope. And I hope they know as a result of my visit they have the friendship of the American people.
And so, Mr. President, I would like to propose a toast to you and Madam Chi and to the fine people of Vietnam. (Applause.)
(A toast is offered.)