Forsaking his motorcade, former U.S. President Bill Clinton took a stroll through the streets of Hanoi on Wednesday as throngs of admirers stopped him for autographs, handshakes and photographs.
"You're so handsome!" one woman shouted as Clinton passed by.
"I love you!" a young man shouted, reaching over the crowd for a handshake.
Clinton came to Hanoi to sign an agreement with the Vietnamese government under which his Clinton Foundation will provide pediatric drugs to children living with HIV and AIDS.
He was also scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet and hold a round-table discussion with eight young people about the disease.
On Wednesday morning, he left the Hilton Hotel in the center of Hanoi and strolled toward Hoan Kiem Lake, the spiritual heart of the city.
Followed by Secret Service agents and Vietnamese police, he stopped along the roughly one-kilometer (half-mile) route to chat with his Vietnamese admirers before making his way to an art gallery in Hanoi's Old Quarter and then to the tomb of Ho Chi Minh, who led Vietnam's communist revolution.
Clinton is extremely popular in Vietnam because the United States normalized relations with its former foe while he was president.
He came to Hanoi in 2000, becoming the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the war ended in 1975, and was greeted by adoring crowds wherever he went.
"It feels great to be back," Clinton said as he set off for his Wednesday stroll.
Once again, he received a rock star's reception, reports AP.
"I'm very happy!" squealed 17-year-old Nguyen Thu Hang, clutching Clinton's freshly signed autograph.
The former president stopped to chat with storekeepers along the way, including Ha Linh Thu, 33, a Hanoi fashion designer. His clothes made as much of an impression on her as his friendly demeanor.
"He has a nice way about him," Thu said. "And he has a very red tie."
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