In his first international trip since the U.S. midterm elections, a politically weakened President Bush is on a Southeast Asian tour for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vietnam. After meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Hanoi, Bush reflected on lessons learned from the Vietnam War for the conflict in Iraq, saying, "We'll succeed unless we quit." He also stressed the importance of participating in the APEC meeting as a forum to discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis and free trade. But some analysts say his trip will probably do little to boost Washington’s declining influence in Asia (Guardian). A chief U.S.-backed initiative, a huge Asia-Pacific free-trade zone, has been pushed off until next year’s forum in Australia (AP). While U.S. clout shrinks, China’s influence grows. Beijing, fresh off negotiating North Korea’s agreement to return to multilateral talks and playing host to an African summit, has become a sought-after trading partner in the region (BBC).