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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 13:21 GMT
Bush tests standing on Asia visit
US President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
Mr Bush will test his international stature on this Asia visit
US President George W Bush is on his way to Asia, for his first foreign trip since the defeat his Republican party suffered in the mid-term elections.

He has stopped off in Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin before flying on to Singapore and then Vietnam for a summit of Asia Pacific countries.

The focus of his talks will be on trade and North Korea's nuclear programme.

His Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao starts his own Asia tour in Vietnam for the Apec meeting in the capital Hanoi.

Correspondents say Mr Bush's tour will be a test of his standing following his setback at the polls.

Reassert world standing

Democrats won control of both houses of Congress last week in a vote seen as a rejection of Mr Bush's Iraq policy.

Humbled by elections back home, President Bush will hope that this foreign trip to Asia will reassert his standing on the world stage, says BBC state department correspondent Jonathan Beale.

He will be the second US president to visit Hanoi since the Vietnam War. His focus at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit there will be to widen free trade agreements with Asia.

Mr Bush is also likely to use this opportunity to discuss with his partners in the region American concerns about a nuclear North Korea, says our correspondent.

China's President Hu Jintao
President Hu is touring China's southern neighbours

He will be joined in Hanoi by China's President Hu Jintao. His tour will also take him to Laos, India and Pakistan.

Mr Hu will be concentrating on improving diplomatic and trading links in China's own backyard, says the BBC's Quentin Somerville in Beijing.

India and China still have unresolved border issues but relations have improved as both nations have grown in global economic stature, our correspondent says.

But India remains suspicious of China's military and nuclear co-operation with Pakistan.

And Chinese state media are saying the two countries are likely to sign a free trade agreement during Mr Hu's state visit there.

However, Mr Bush's free trade agenda may now prove contentious with Democrats taking control in Congress, our Washington correspondent says.

The Democratic party has long had strong links with trade unions and may advocate more protectionist policies, he says.

Vladimir Putin greets George Bush in Moscow

Bon voyage, Mr President
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