Japan promises to assist Vietnam

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Japan considers Vietnam a strategic partner in Asia and will continue to help the country develop several large infrastructure projects, an official said Tuesday.

A record pledge of aid to Vietnam in the midst of the economic crisis last year has demonstrated this stance, Seiji Maehara, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, said at a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, who was visiting Japan.

Japan will assist Vietnam in building national highways, a new terminal in Noi Bai Airport and a drainage project in Ho Chi Minh City, Maehara was cited by the Vietnamese government's website as saying.

He also announced that Japan has agreed, in principle, to allow national carrier Vietnam Airlines to open a direct route from Vietnam to Haneda International Airport in the capital city of Tokyo.

Japan approved a record amount of aid to Vietnam of 145.631 billion yen (US$1.64 billion) for the 2009 fiscal year. The country has been committed to 28.388 billion yen ($306 million) of foreign aid for Vietnam in the first phase of the 2010 fiscal year, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan expressed thanks to Japan for offering loans to Vietnam and helping develop major projects that are vital to the country's development.

Nhan was visiting Japan to attend the 16th International Conference on the Future of Asia.

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