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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai agreed Wednesday to maintain economic cooperation between the two countries, a Foreign Ministry official said.

The two leaders confirmed the importance of bilateral relations in fields such as trade and tourism, with Koizumi promising to continue supporting Vietnam through Japan’s official development assistance, the official said.

Koizumi said Japan is ready to discuss what kind of specific help it can provide Vietnam in such areas as information technology and from the perspective of advancing the Asian region as a whole, according to the official.

Khai explained that Vietnam places utmost importance on its economic ties with Japan, and requested that Tokyo increase low-interest yen loans and grants, and cooperate further in human resources training, the official said.

Koizumi explained that his administration is currently reviewing ODA programs to make them more effective in relation to the future development of recipient countries and that Japan will consider specific requests based on this standpoint.

Khai expressed hope that the two countries could conclude an investment protection agreement to enable Japanese businesses to invest more in Vietnam and promised to offer a safe environment for them, the official said.

Khai is visiting Japan to attend an international conference on the future of Asia to take place today and Friday in Tokyo.

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