Vietnam to help Japan on rare earths: Joint statement

Vietnam will help to supply Japan with rare earth minerals used in high-tech products.

Hanoi: Vietnam will help to supply Japan
with rare earth minerals used in high-tech products, leaders
of the two countries said today, as Japan looks to diversify
supply after a spat with key provider China.

"Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that Vietnam
has decided to have Japan as a partner for exploration,
mining, development, and separation and production of rare
earth minerals in the country," the Vietnamese leader and
Japan`s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a joint statement
after talks.

Japan has said shipments of rare earths from China
were blocked during a diplomatic row sparked by the arrest of
a Chinese trawler-man in disputed waters.

Japan`s stockpile of the minerals could be exhausted
by March or April without fresh imports from China, officials
have said.

China, which controls more than 95 per cent of the
global market, has repeatedly denied it curbed exports in
retaliation over the dispute, but all 31 Japanese companies
handling the minerals have reported disruption to shipments.

Rare earths -- a group of 17 elements -- are used in
products ranging from flat-screen televisions to lasers and
hybrid cars.

Tokyo said last week that India has agreed to provide
a stable supply of rare earth minerals to Japan, and Japanese
Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Wednesday that his country
and the United States will cooperate to diversify the sources
of rare earth imports.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday
received "assurances" from her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi
on China`s policy toward exports of rare earth minerals, a US
official said.

A White House spokesman said earlier that the US was
checking to see whether China was cutting off rare earths
exports to US companies but had not reached a conclusion.

China recently denied a report in The New York Times
that it had halted some rare earth shipments to the United
States in response to a US probe into alleged Chinese
subsidies for its green technology sector.