But the centrepiece on the Asia tour is his visit to Vietnam, where Bush will join the summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum.

Although Apec is officially a trade organisation, the issue of North Korea’s recent nuclear test is expected to dominate discussions with regional leaders.

On the sidelines of the summit, Bush is expected to meet leaders from Russia, Japan, China and South Korea.

He is eager to build a united front among the five countries on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Last month, apparently under pressure from China, North Korea agreed to return to six-nation talks on the issue. They are expected to resume in Beijing in December.

He had hoped to arrive in Hanoi carrying an historic bill to normalise US trade relations with Vietnam, but the legislation was blocked by the US House of Representatives earlier this week.

Congress is expected to give the bill a second look in December.

Show of support

Before travelling to Vietnam, Bush will make a brief stopover in Indonesia for talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"As a cultured nation, we have manners and any visitor should be treated like a guest"

Unitaryo,
Organiser of pro-visit rally

Fighting Islamic militancy and economic ties are expected to be the focus of their talks.

On Wednesday, in an unusual sight for Indonesia, about a hundred demonstrators joined a rally in the Javanese city of Bogor support of Bush’s visit.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and in recent years has been the scene for large demonstrations against US policy in Iraq and the wider Muslim world.

Organisers of the Bogor rally said they wanted to demonstrate a different face of Indonesia.

"We are obligated to receive our guests properly," said rally leader Unitaryo, who said his group is not affiliated to any religious or political party.

"As a cultured nation, we have manners and any visitor should be treated like a guest."