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Japan to Build Nuclear Plants in Vietnam, Seek Rare-Earths Deal

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Vietnam agreed to make Japan a partner in building its nuclear power plants as the two nations negotiate a broader deal on the development of rare-earth minerals to secure supplies after China cut exports.

Vietnam and Japan signed a deal to cooperate on rare earths metals, according to an e-mailed statement from Japan’s Trade Ministry, which didn’t provide details. The two nations also signed the agreement on nuclear plants, according to the release. Kyodo News reported Japan will build two nuclear plants in Vietnam, citing a statement from the country’s prime ministers.

The agreements follow three days of meetings involving Asian leaders in Hanoi, along with the U.S. and Russia. Japanese companies are seeking sources of rare-earths metals other than China such as Vietnam to secure supplies, Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Satoru Sato told reporters in Hanoi on Oct. 29.

Russia also signed a deal with Vietnam to build two nuclear reactors in Vietnam by 2020 in a ceremony in Hanoi presided over by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

A sea collision between a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese Coast Guard vessels near the disputed islands last month soured relations and reportedly prompted Beijing to cut exports of rare-earth minerals. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged a steady supply of the minerals during an Oct. 28 meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak.

Japan will also offer 79 billion yen ($983 million) in loans to Vietnam for port construction, according to Kyodo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptioghe@bloomberg.net

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