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Bush, in Vietnam, Says Change Takes Time

North Korea agreed last month to resume talks on its nuclear weapons program, three weeks after conducting its first nuclear weapons test. Diplomats say they hope talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States will take place by year's end, but no date has been fixed.

Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have said the countries involved in the talks have doubts that North Korea intends to abandon its nuclear program. They have expressed hope that the 21 APEC nations will craft a statement to put more pressure on North Korea, though South Korea has been reluctant to do so.

Asked about such a statement, David McCormick, a deputy national security adviser, said: "Certainly that will be an agenda item, and there was discussion of whether there will be an actual statement or not. To be determined."

Bush, who as a young man joined the Texas Air National Guard rather than serve in Vietnam, will spend part of his visit focusing on the lingering wounds from the war, including a visit to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is working to determine the fate of servicemen still missing from the war.

On his drive into Hanoi, Bush passed many sites of note, including the tomb of Ho Chi Minh, and Truc Bach Lake, where John McCain, now a Republican senator from Arizona, was shot down in 1967 when he was a Navy pilot. McCain was a prisoner of war for more than five years.

"Laura and I were talking about -- we were talking about how amazing it is we're here in Vietnam," Bush said. "And one of the most poignant moments of the drive in was passing the lake where John McCain got pulled out of the lake. And he's a friend of ours. He suffered a lot as a result of his imprisonment, and yet, we passed the place where he was, literally, saved, in one way, by the people pulling him out."

In fact, according to McCain, who broke both arms and his right knee while ejecting from his A-4 Skyhawk, he was hauled out of the lake on two bamboo poles and beaten on the shore by an angry mob.

In his autobiography, "Faith of My Fathers," McCain wrote that the crowd, shouting wildly, stripped his clothes off, "spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly." A woman, possibly a nurse, intervened, and a Vietnamese army truck arrived "to take me away from this group of aggrieved citizens who seemed intent on killing me," McCain wrote.

He described subsequent repeated beatings and torture at the hands of his captors in the notorious Hoa Lo prison, known to American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton."

Staff writer William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.


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