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Russia, Vietnam Agree To Step Up Cooperation

Putin (right) and Vietnamese President Nguyen arrive at Presidential Palace on November 20 (epa) November 20, 2006 -- Russia and Vietnam agreed today to step up economic cooperation and work together to combat terrorism.

Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia could expand cooperation in the energy sector to include nuclear power.

Earlier, Russia and Vietnam announced that they have agreed to restructure their joint venture oil firm, Vietsovpetro, in order to explore new oil deposits.

In a statement, Putin and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet called on their governments to outline principles for extending the agreement on the joint venture. The agreement on Southeast Asia's largest crude-oil producer is due to expire in 2010.

In a joint statement, the two sides also called for a resolution of the diplomatic impasse over North Korea's nuclear program "by political and diplomatic means." The countries also pledged to fight terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Putin is on his first visit to Vietnam in five years. He was meeting with Triet and other senior Vietnamese officials following a weekend summit in Hanoi of Pacific Rim leaders.

(AP, AFP, RIA Novosti)