Japan signs mining and nuclear deal

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The Independent Online

Vietnam has chosen Japan as a partner to mine rare earth metals and to develop nuclear power in the Communist country, the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said yesterday.

Mr Kan made the comments after meeting his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, in Hanoi and said it was a sign of the "strategic partnership between the two countries".

Japan recently announced plans to begin mining in Vietnam for rare earth metals used in the manufacture of hi-tech products such as laptops and hybrid cars, in a bid to reduce its dependence on China, which produces 97 per cent of the world's supply.

China has blocked rare earths shipments to Japan following a diplomatic spat over disputed islands in the East China Sea, after a collision of a Chinese fishing trawler with two Japanese patrol boats.

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