Gates, in Hanoi, notes friendly ties of old foes

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (left) and Vietnam's minister of defense, Gen. Phung Quang Thanh, stand together during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" during a Guards of Honor ceremony at the Ministry of Defense in Hanoi on Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (left) and Vietnam’s minister of defense, Gen. Phung Quang Thanh, stand together during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during a Guards of Honor ceremony at the Ministry of Defense in Hanoi on Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
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Gen. Phung Quang Thanh, the defense minister, said the two discussed widening cooperation for the recovery of both U.S. and Vietnamese war dead. Gen. Thanh said Vietnam will consider allowing the United States to join Vietnamese searchers at six sensitive military sites that have been off-limits.

Mr. Gates told reporters afterward that the subject of Southeast Asian territorial quarrels with China did not come up, but he repeated the U.S. view that those disputes should be handled peacefully through negotiation or arbitration.

Mr. Gates‘ university audience clapped politely as he was introduced to the thumping beat of electronic dance music. Questions were polite, too, and apparently scripted in advance.

One student asked whether the United States would walk away from its obligations in Asia. Mr. Gates assured him no.

Asked about his own retirement plans, Mr. Gates was coy.

“We’ll see,” he said.

Mr. Gates is expected to leave his post next year, probably in the spring.

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