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Japan to help Vietnamese Energy Development

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said their countries will cooperate further on infrastructure projects in areas such as urban development and energy.

Kishida said he and Minh also pledged when they met Monday in Tokyo to promote free trade, including under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, of which both Japan and Vietnam are signatories.

The future prospects of the Pacific Rim trade deal are set to be discussed at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to be hosted by Vietnam in November. The likelihood that the pact will go into force was complicated by President Donald Trump withdrawing the United States upon coming to office in January.

“We agreed to improve the investment environment (in Vietnam) … to increase investments by Japanese companies and develop industries in Vietnam,” Kishida said during a news conference after co-hosting the Japan-Vietnam Cooperation Committee, the ninth of its kind, with Minh in Tokyo.

Minh, who doubles as foreign minister, said Japan and Vietnam will “strengthen political cooperation through frequent meetings between the leaders and also seek cooperation in trade, investment and the economy.”

The “bilateral broad, strategic partnership will be deepened” through agreement and the promotion of personnel exchanges, Minh said.

In a separate meeting earlier with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Minh proffered the premier an invitation to attend the APEC summit. In the portion open to the media, Abe said he intends to attend the gathering and promised Japan’s “all-out” support for Vietnam’s hosting of the event.

Tokyo will continue to pursue the TPP even without United States involvement, but some countries, including Vietnam and Malaysia who hope to boost exports to the United States, are believed to be reluctant to put the TPP into force among the remaining 11 members.

Minh was on a three-day visit to Japan through Tuesday to lay the groundwork for Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Japan next month.

Kishida’s renewed vow to support Vietnam’s economic development comes in line with Japan’s offer of loans totaling around ¥117 billion that Abe announced during a visit to Hanoi in January.

The yen loans included Japan’s offer of six patrol vessels to help strengthen Vietnam’s maritime security and a pledge to enhance the country’s water management systems and efforts against climate change.

Vietnam is among the claimants in the South China Sea territorial dispute with China. Tensions are high in the contested waters due to China’s military buildup.

During their meeting Monday, Abe and Minh discussed the South China Sea issue and how to deal with the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear tests and repeated launches of ballistic missiles, the Foreign Ministry said.

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