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Vietnam’s Prime Minister Chooses Successor

May 16, 2006

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Vietnam’s prime minister said Tuesday he has nominated Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as his successor.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai told reporters on the opening day of the National Assembly that he has asked to step down from his post and has recommended his deputy for the job.

``I’m more than 70 years old. I should retire for a younger leader,″ said Khai, 72, who has served two five-year terms.

Khai’s announcement is part of a long-expected reshuffle in Vietnam’s leadership. During last month’s key Communist Party congress, neither Khai nor President Tran Duc Luong, 68, were re-elected to the Politburo, the ruling party’s innermost circle of leaders.

The National Assembly is expected to confirm Dung as well as new replacements for the posts of president and national assembly chairman during its month-long session, said Vu Mao, head of the assembly external affairs commission, on Tuesday.

Dung, 56, a one-time central bank governor who has been groomed for the job for years, has had responsibility for overseeing the overall economy in recent years.

Khai was appointed prime minister in 1997 amid the Asian financial crisis. He guided Vietnam past the crisis, achieving an average GDP growth of 7 percent over the past nine years. Last year, Vietnam recorded a decade-high rate of 8.4 percent growth.

During this assembly session, several new cabinet ministers are also expected to be appointed for the ministries of defense, foreign affairs and transport, officials had said earlier.

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