Vietnam urges SE Asia to consider nuclear power use

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Vietnam called on Southeast Asian countries on July 22 to consider using nuclear power for peaceful purposes as Asia faces rising energy needs to fuel economic growth.

The countries should "promote cooperation on planning and energy policy to ensure security of energy supply and demand, extraction and conversion, transport and distribution of oil and gas", Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in the opening speech to a meeting of ASEAN energy ministers.

He urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to "consider the possibility of cooperation in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as a source of alternative low-carbon and sustainable energy."

The call followed a proposal by Russia to help Southeast Asian countries build nuclear power plants and develop its use.

Several countries in the 10- member ASEAN such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have plans to build or are moving forward with building nuclear power plants to tackle electricity shortages.

Along with Russia, senior energy officials from Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are in Da Lat this week for a series of meetings.

Dung said ASEAN needed to step up research and promote projects on a regional power grid and a trans-ASEAN gas pipeline to ensure support on electricity, oil and gas in the bloc.

Cooperation in trade and investment in the field of clean coal technology transfer to meet fast-growing demand for the fossil should be promoted among ASEAN members, he said.

ASEAN members should also cooperate closely on the use of renewable energy sources, with a target to bring it to 15 percent of total energy consumption by 2015, he added.

Vietnam chairs ASEAN activities in 2010. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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