Vietnam's prime minister nominates as successor

Vietnam's prime minister said Tuesday he has nominated as his successor Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who has overseen sizzling economic expansion that has made the country one of Asia's fastest growing economies.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai told reporters on the opening day of the National Assembly that he has asked to step down from his post and has recommended his deputy for the job.

"I'm more than 70 years old. I should retire for a younger leader," said Khai, 72, who has served two five-year terms.

Dung, 56, a one-time central bank governor who has been groomed for the job for years, has had responsibility for overseeing the overall economy in recent years.

Khai praised his deputy, saying Dung will continue to keep the country on its charted course of economic reforms.

"In Vietnam, despite the changes in the top leadership, there will be no reversal" in the country's direction, he said.

Khai's announcement is part of a long-expected reshuffle in Vietnam's leadership. During last month's key Communist Party congress, neither Khai nor President Tran Duc Luong, 68, were re-elected to the Politburo, the ruling party's innermost circle of leaders.

The National Assembly is expected to confirm Dung as well as new replacements for the posts of president and national assembly chairman during its month-long session, said Vu Mao, head of the assembly external affairs commission, on Tuesday, reports the AP.

I.L.