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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Kicks Off Hanoi Tour

ReutersPrime Minister Kasyanov getting off the plane Tuesday upon arriving in Vietnam.
HANOI, Vietnam -- Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday to promote a strategic partnership between the former Cold War allies.

Kasyanov will stay until Thursday and the two countries will discuss ways to expand oil and gas exploitation. They are also expected to discuss Russia's pullout from the strategic naval and air base of Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam.

Vietnam's official media said the countries were expected to sign an agreement Wednesday on a $100 million credit Russia has offered for two hydropower plants.

The Russian Embassy said agreements would also cover peaceful cooperation in nuclear energy, as well as in meteorology, medicine and health care.

The Saigon Times Daily said Kasyanov would be accompanied by officials of 10 firms operating in the oil and gas sectors, energy, industrial equipment and investment and trade promotion.

Kasyanov told the Vietnam News Agency last week that Russia aimed to strengthen relations "in all domains and to enhance coordination of actions to address pressing international issues, including global and regional challenges."

He said Russia appreciated Vietnam's role as a dialogue coordinator with the Association of South East Asian Nations, a bloc with which Moscow is eager to boost ties. He also said he had high hopes for the commissioning of the Dung Quat oil refinery, a project way behind schedule.

The $1.3 billion plant was due for completion next year as Vietnam's first big refinery, but Russia has said it will be delayed two years due to tendering and funding difficulties.

Discussions are also likely on the resupply of Vietnam's mainly Soviet-equipped armed forces, given that the strategic partnership declared during President Vladimir Putin's visit last March covered military as well as trade and economic cooperation.

Kasyanov comes as Russia is in the process of withdrawing from Cam Ranh Bay, which it has leased rent-free since 1979. Moscow's lease does not expire until 2004, but faced with a much reduced defense budget and a looming rental bill, it decided on an early pullout.