U.S. House speaker meets top officials in Hanoi

U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert told Vietnam's top leaders Friday that he wants to help the communist country join the World Trade Organization, but it will first require a tough vote from Congress.

"Trade votes in the United States Congress are never very easy things," he said. The United States and Mexico are the only two remaining countries with which Vietnam must conclude trade deals before joining the WTO.

National Assembly Chair Nguyen Van An welcomed Hastert and his congressional delegation at the grand French colonial government guest house and said his country wants to cooperate with the U.S. as Vietnam pushes to join the world trade body.

"Today's priority is cooperation for development," he said. "We need to work with other nations in the world to bring a better life to our people."

Hastert said now is the time for the former enemies to work together.

"We want to talk about things of mutual interest and the most interesting and timely is of trade," he said.

Hastert's four-day visit comes as both countries are close to concluding their negotiations on Vietnam's accession to the WTO. The communist country hopes to join the trade body before it hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum later this year.

The U.S. Congress must also approve permanent normal trading relations with Vietnam before the country can gain entry to the WTO.

Hastert said that part could be tricky, reports the AP.


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