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The BBC's Bill Hayton
"Colin Powell will have to smooth a few feathers, ruffled by the policies of President Bush"
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EU Director for Asian Affairs, Jonathan Sheele
"Burma is very much on the agenda"
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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Powell revisits 'exciting' Vietnam
Powell kneeling at memorial
Lighting incense at a Hanoi memorial
More than 30 years after he served there as a soldier, Colin Powell has returned to Vietnam as US Secretary of State.

The Gulf War general walked through the centre of the capital, Hanoi, and spoke to some residents.

So much has changed, but so much remains the same. There is always a pain

Colin Powell
US Secretary of State

"My impressions are robust," Powell told reporters.

"The city, Hanoi, I mean just the movement and the shops, and the sense of small entrepreneurial activity, is pretty exciting."

Mr Powell also spoke of the conflicting emotions aroused by his first visit to Vietnam since he served two terms of duty there in 1962 and 1968.

"So much has changed," he said, "but so much remains the same."

"There is always a pain."

Powell with Vietnamese president
Powell held talks with Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong
Mr Powell, who is in Hanoi for a meeting of an Asian regional security forum, also visited a memorial to US and Vietnamese citizens killed in a plane crash as they searched for the remains of American soldiers who died in the Vietnam war.

Placing incense and roses at the memorial, Mr. Powell said: "All my buddies came home."

"Even those who died we got the remains, but for the ones who did not, their is a longing in the heart of their family members, their fellow veterans."

More than 900 US soldiers are still listed as "missing in action" in Vietnam.

Establishing what happened to them is still a top priority for the United States in its relations with the South East Asian country.

But trade is also an important issue, and is expected to receive an important boost when a bilateral deal is approved by the US House of Representatives.

Mr Powell is also due to visit South Korea and China.

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See also:

26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China frees scholar 'spies'
23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Powell begins first East Asia visit
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