The civil nuclear energy option has come into sharp focus in Southeast Asia, with Vietnam firming up foreign aid and Singapore evincing interest.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said here on Monday “the option of nuclear energy … is not off the table”. Setting the tone for the third Singapore International Energy Week, Mr. Lee said “we have to start building up our capabilities now” so that the city-state “can decide on the feasibility of nuclear power deployment one day in the future”.

Meanwhile, Russia and Japan on Sunday agreed, independently, to help Vietnam in the civil nuclear sector. The dual breakthrough was announced by the Vietnamese leaders after they held different meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan in Hanoi.

A formal accord for the establishment of Vietnam's first-ever nuclear power plant was signed in the presence of Mr. Medvedev and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Minh Triet.

The two sides signed other agreements on broad-spectrum energy cooperation, military-related intellectual property rights, and customs procedures.

On a parallel track, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Hanoi had “decided to partner with Japan to build a second nuclear power plant and conduct rare-earth investigation, exploration, and processing in Vietnam”.

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