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HANOI (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Gia Khiem, agreed Saturday to strengthen security ties by launching a bilateral framework for consultations between high-level foreign and defense officials, a Japanese official said.

Okada, who was on a visit to Vietnam for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also pitched Japan’s nuclear power generation technology and high-speed railway system for export to Vietnam, the official said.

The two countries will establish a so-called two-plus-two dialogue for a bilateral strategic partnership involving vice foreign ministers and director general-level defense officials, he said.

Japan holds minister-level two-plus-two meetings with the United States and Australia, and vice minister-level talks with India.

Tokyo and Hanoi had agreed in April last year to upgrade the existing foreign and defense dialogue frameworks to further bolster bilateral ties.

On nuclear power generation, Okada told Khiem, who doubles as deputy prime minister, that he hopes the two countries will kick off at an early date official negotiations aimed at sealing a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation pact, according to the official.

Such a pact will pave the way for sales of Japanese nuclear power-generation technology and equipment to Vietnam. The two countries held informal talks on the nuclear pact in June.

Okada also requested that Vietnam adopt Japanese bullet train technology for its north-south railway construction plan. He also said Tokyo is willing to consult with Hanoi on the matter so that the project will not put an excessive financial burden on Vietnam.

Khiem said although the Vietnamese Parliament recently decided not to give the green light to a government plan on the railway system, the project was not rejected and approval is still pending. He expressed hope that the project will be a symbol of long-term bilateral cooperation, according to the Japanese official.

Okada also discussed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Friday bilateral cooperation over nuclear power generation and high-speed railway construction.

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