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The two countries are eyeing a bilateral trade of $10 billion by 2020. Russia has said Vietnam is a priority partner in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Vietnam has been a long-term, trustworthy partner for Russia…and political dialogue between the two countries is at a high level,” said Putin following talks with the country’s leadership.
“We had very substantial, useful and successful talks with the Vietnamese president and prime minister,” Putin said at the meeting with Communist Party of Vietnam General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
President Truong Tan Sang said Vietnam “has always considered Comrade Putin our very close friend.”
Agreements signed included on military deals, science and technology, as well as on extradition. Vietnam has become a major buyer of Russian weapons since 2010.
“Trade can be further increased by creating a free trade zone between Customs Union members and Vietnam. Active negotiations to this effect are underway,” said Putin.
Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, and Petrovietnam agreed on the modernization of the Dung Quat oil refinery in Quang Ngai province, Gazprom Neft chief executive Alexander Dyukov told reporters.
Russia is also trying to garner a significant share of Vietnam’s growing nuclear power market.
“Our cooperation in nuclear power is not limited at the construction of Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant, but also includes training human resources and building a nuclear technology training center in Vietnam,” Putin said.
Russia is increasing strategic cooperation in the region even as the US has announced a much-hyped Asia Pivot that many believe is a move aimed to contain the rise of China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said recently that Beijing would like to work together with Russia to maintain security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Today, given that the Asia-Pacific region’s growing role in global politics and the global economy, the Chinese side is interested in seeing Russia continue to be present in the region, and also play a significant role in the development of this region,” said Xi on the sidelines of the 2013 APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Putin is set to continue his Asian tour with a visit to South Korea on Wednesday.