Russia's Medvedev in Vietnam, nuclear deal in the offing
President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Vietnam Saturday for a visit that will see Russia sign a multi-billion-euro nuclear power plant deal with the former Soviet-era Communist ally.
Medvedev said he was expecting "serious results" from the trip, which is aimed at establishing wider energy ties.
Referring to close links between the Soviet Union and Vietnam in the 1980s, Medvedev said he hoped their shared history would provide a firm foundation for a tight, modern-day economic and political partnership.
"We were together with the heroic Vietnamese people during the years of its fight for independence and reunification, during the complicated period of reviving its national economy," he wrote in an article for the Vietnamese newspaper Nhan Dan, the text of which was released by the Kremlin.
The president is scheduled to meet top Vietnamese officials on Sunday and agree on the construction of Vietnam's first nuclear power plant.
An official with Russian state nuclear conglomerate Rosatom told AFP the construction of the two-unit plant is estimated at over 4.0 billion euros.
"I am convinced that the development of this sphere in Vietnam will positively affect the growth of national economy and the image of your country in the world," Medvedev wrote.
Russia is locked in a global race with competitors like the United States, Japan and France to clinch lucrative worldwide contracts as demand for nuclear energy increases.
Vietnam has approved building the country's first nuclear power stations and initial plans call for four reactors, with a total capacity of 4,000 Megawatts, at least one of which should be operational from 2020.
Moscow is willing to provide a loan to help Vietnam finance the plant's construction, Medvedev's top foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko said at the Kremlin in comments released Friday.
"Such a large project as the construction of a nuclear power station naturally prompts our friends to make use of our financial resources," he said.
Apart from the nuclear power plant, Russia and Vietnam are scheduled to sign a raft of agreements on cooperation in hydro-electric energy, customs and other areas.
Medvedev said there were many "promising prospects" in oil and gas exploration.
Ties with Vietnam date back to the Soviet era when the communist Soviet Union became the country's main benefactor after the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
"There are not too many countries in the world in whose common history there are absolutely no negative pages," he said, adding he hoped to achieve "serious results" during the Vietnam state visit.
Following the Soviet collapse in 1991 Vietnam was left without the Soviet Union's ideological, economic and military support and ties have long remained only a shadow of Cold War levels.
Before the start of the state visit, Medvedev on Saturday will participate in a summit with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi.
© 2010 AFP