Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's [WIN TAN ZOONG]recent visitto Washington marks another step in what has become an increasingly robust bilateral partnership. While still a one-party state, Vietnam has made great strides economically by adopting a free-market approach to trade. As Vietnam's third largest trade partner and its largest export market, the U.S. has benefited from strong economic cooperation, and Vietnam has too. At a White House meeting June 24, Mr. Dung and President George Bush agreed to open talks to promote bilateral investment, increase educational ties and expand dialogue on security and other issues. Our relationship with Vietnam is getting closer, in a spirit of respect, President Bush told Mr. Dung. I thank you for coming to help make that relationship even stronger.Mr. Dung agreed that his country and the U.S. are building a constructive and friendly partnership, and said new consultative groups are being established. He also mentioned ongoing cooperation in areas tied to the legacy of the Vietnam War, such as POW-MIA accounting and mine clearance. In a joint statement, the president and prime minister agreed on the importance of the rule of law in modern societies, and Mr. Bush noted progress Vietnam is making in improving its human rights practices and conditions for religious believers and ethnic minorities. Serious concerns remain over Vietnam's use of national security laws to detain dissidents for practices recognized by the international community as individual liberties. As the two nations work more closely together, the U.S. continues to urge Vietnam to allow greater political freedoms and to make additional concessions for its citizens' religious beliefs.