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Japan Prime Minister Suga Travels to Vietnam for Bilateral Talks

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leaves after laying a wreath at the mausoleum of Vietnam's late President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 19, 2020.

In his first foreign trip since taking office last month, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was in Hanoi Monday for bilateral talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, reaching agreements on strengthening economic and security cooperation.

Suga succeeds Shinzo Abe, who recently resigned, citing ill health.

At a news conference following talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Suga announced an agreement for Japan to export military equipment to Vietnam, as China has been asserting its military presence in the region.

Suga told reporters the agreement was a “big step in the field of security for both countries that we reached an agreement in principle on the transfers of defense equipment and technology.” The two leaders also agreed on the importance of maintaining peace, security and freedom of navigation, and overflight in the South China Sea.

Vietnam welcomes Japan, a global power, to continue to actively contribute to regional and global peace, stability and prosperity," Phuc said.

Suga said the two countries had agreed to bolster their cooperation to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and reopen markets as soon as possible.

"We agreed on restarting ‘business track’ travel, as well as passenger flights between the two countries today," he said.

Suga added that Japan would "advance the diversification of supply chains" without going into the details.

After their talks, Suga visited the home of former Vietnamese Leader Ho Chi Minh and laid a wreath at his mausoleum. His first diplomatic trip continues with a stop in Indonesia.