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The presidents of Russia and Vietnam issued a joint statement in Hanoi Monday
The presidents of Russia and Vietnam issued a joint statement in Hanoi Monday, saying the countries will reorganize their joint oil venture Vietsovpetro, the southeast Asian country's largest crude producer, to explore new deposits. President Vladimir Putin, who is staying an extra day in Vietnam's capital following a November 18-19 forum of Pacific Rim countries, held a closed-door meeting with Nguyen Minh Triet, focusing on energy cooperation. At the weekend's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, also attended by Untied States President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao, leaders discussed Iran and North Korea's nuclear problems, as well as wide-ranging economic issues. The joint statement following the Russian and Vietnamese leaders' meeting, also attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko, said the presidents have recommended that their governments outline principles for extending the bilateral agreement on Vietsovpetro, which expires in 2010. The statement said talks on cooperation in oil prospecting and production will be completed by 2008. The reorganization of Vietsovpetro envisages joint prospecting on Vietnam's White Tiger and Dragon deposits, the launching of new projects, and the expansion of the Soviet-era company's operations to third countries. Vietsovpetro, formed in 1981, has started building a $300 million natural gas pipeline in southern Vietnam as part of a $1.2 billion project to build an energy and nitrogen complex, including two electric power stations and a nitrogen processing facility at a total cost of $900 million. In 2006-2010, Vietsovpetro plans to produce 37-40 million metric tons of crude and 6.5 billion cubic meters of associated gas. Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Vadim Serafimov said the countries seek a boost in bilateral trade, which currently exceeds $1 billion annually. "This is a modest figure, but the trend is positive," he said, citing customs tariffs as the main restraining factor. Trade between the two countries was up 20% in 2005 year-on-year to $1.1 billion. Russia traditionally supplies machinery and equipment, rolled metal products, non-ferrous metals and chemicals to Vietnam.
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