U.N. Secretary-General Annan in talks with Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and the ornate presidential palace on Wednesday during a trip to a Vietnam which has overcome a war-torn, isolated past and built one of Asia 's fastest-growing economies. Annan met with government leaders on Vietnam 's efforts to meet the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals, which governments worldwide pledged to achieve by 2015. The goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, providing primary education to children and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Annan arrived in Hanoi , Vietnam 's capital, from China as part of an Asian tour. His next stop is Thailand . He visited the granite mausoleum holding the embalmed remains of the nation's founding president, Ho Chi Minh. A limousine with a motorcycle escort then took him to the nearby palace to meet President Tran Duc Luong, who praised the "excellent cooperation" between his country and the United Nations.

Annan made similar remarks at a meeting later with Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien. "I have been always impressed with the good cooperation between the U.N. and your country," Annan said. "We've been working together over the past 30 years, and I think the partnership has yielded very good results." Several U.N. agencies, including UNICEF and the World Health Organization, operate in Vietnam . Talks on bird flu were also on Annan's agenda.

Vietnam was hard-hit by the H5N1 bird flu virus, but mass poultry vaccinations and strong political will have slowed the spread of the virus. Vietnam has not reported any outbreaks in poultry since December and no human cases since November. Jasper Morch, head of UNICEF's operations in Vietnam , praised Vietnam 's economic development and said its leaders recognize that more must be done to alleviate poverty among ethnic minorities and people in remote areas. Vietnam 's economy grew 8.4 percent last year, the second-highest rate in the region after China . The developing nation seeks to enter the World Trade Organization before it hosts a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in November, reports the AP.

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