• Kyodo News

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Prime Minister Taro Aso and visiting Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nong Duc Manh agreed Monday the leaders of the two countries should start reciprocal annual visits.

The two countries also agreed on the importance of denuclearizing North Korea, with Manh expressing hope for a resumption of the stalled six-party talks to this end that also involved Pyongyang, a Foreign Ministry official said.

“We agreed to enhance a strategic partnership that was built between Japan and Vietnam to seek peace and prosperity in Asia,” Aso told a news conference after his talks with Manh.

Aso also said he was invited by Manh to visit Vietnam and said he would like to go “at a convenient time.”

Aso told Manh that Japan will continue to support Vietnam with its economic development and the two leaders agreed to step up efforts for the effective use of official development assistance as well as to eradicate corruption.

Japan resumed its government loans to Vietnam late last month after suspending its ODA last summer following revelations of bribery involving Vietnamese government officials and Japanese consultant companies.

According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two agreed to cooperate toward putting into effect at an early date an economic partnership agreement signed last December.

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