Rumsfeld's Pentagon has built close ties to Asian countries ranging from Vietnam to Mongolia and modernised its alliances with Japan and South Korea to reflect post-Cold War demands for smaller, nimbler forces to cope with regional contingencies.
U.S. military ties with Hanoi, 31 years after the end of the Vietnam war and and 11 years after the normalisation of diplomatic ties, have warmed gradually with ship visits and modest medical and educational exchanges.
Asked today if he had set any blueprints for military cooperation, Rumsfeld told travelling reporters: ''I don't have a wish list and i don't have a set of things we are trying to achieve.'' He added: ''What we want to see is a relationship between our country and Vietnam evolve in a way that is comfortable to them and comfortable to us.'' Rumsfeld was to hold talks in Hanoi on Monday with his Vietnamese counterpart and other top officials.
''Both sides are being very deliberate and it's making advances at a pace that both sides are comfortable with,'' said a senior Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
''They have China next door to them and they're careful to keep good relations with China and they want a balance in relations with us and relations with China,'' said the official.
U.S. ties with Beijing likewise mix robust trade flows and cooperation on anti-terrorism and nuclear proliferation troublespots like Iran and North Korea with a wariness about China's military that Rumsfeld has highlighted on his Asian tour.
REUTERS SK PC1616