The United States and Japan will cooperate to diversify the sources of imports of rare earths needed in high-tech products, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Wednesday.
"We have to diversify the sources of rare earth minerals," Maehara said in a press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after they met in Hawaii.
"And here again Japan and the United States will closely cooperate with each other in order to engage in more diversified rare earth minerals diplomacy," he said.
Clinton meanwhile welcomed remarks from officials in Beijing that China will not use its near-global monopoly on the rare earths trade as a "bargaining tool," but she said it is important to diversify sources.
Clinton, reacting to the remarks as described to her by a journalist, quipped that it will make her conversation shorter with Chinese state councilor Dai Bingguo when she meets him on China's Hainan island on Saturday.
Still, "I would welcome any clarification of their policy and hope that it means trade and commerce around these important materials will continue unabated and without any interference," Clinton said.
"At the same time because of the importance of these rare earth minerals, both the minister and I are aware that our countries and others will have to look for additional sources of supply," she said.
"That is in our interests commercially and strategically," she said.
Rare earths -- a group of 17 elements -- are used in high-tech products ranging from flat-screen televisions to lasers to hybrid cars, and China controls more than 95 percent of the global market.
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