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People familiar with the talks said, Japan and Australia are leaning towards a multibillion-dollar sale by Tokyo of a fleet of stealth submarines to Canberra’s military in a move that could rile an increasingly assertive China. An agreement is still some months away, three people said, but the unprecedented sale of off-the-shelf vessels based on the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force’s Soryu class sub is emerging as the likeliest option.

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