Japanese PM: We aim to strengthen ‘strategic partnership’ with Saudi Arabia

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Tokyo aims to strengthen its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, adding that it supports the reform efforts in the Kingdom.

In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Abe said that Japan’s relation with Saudi Arabia, which plays a decisive role in terms of peace and stability in the region, is significant.

Abe added that he spoke twice over the phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the upcoming G20 Summit, which will be held on Friday and Saturday.

“We are closely cooperating for the summit to succeed. We will certainly do our best towards the summit’s success so we can hand over the summit’s presidency to Saudi Arabia which is a fixed strategic partner of Japan,” Abe said.

This year’s G20 Summit will be held in the Japanese city of Osaka, while next year it will be held in November in Saudi Arabia.

In the interview, Abe cited the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, which was held in Tokyo on June 17, and said the meeting emphasized the significance of cooperation in the fields of economy, human resources, and cultural exchange.

“I look forward to a beneficial exchange of opinions with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 Summit in Osaka to strengthen bilateral ties,” he added.

Abe also noted that Japan takes a neutral position in religions, sects, nationalism, and history, in addition to having good relations with all countries in the Middle East, and hence, it can exchange views with the US to achieve peace and stability in the region.

“For example, we contribute to the region via the Corridor for the Peace to Prosperity initiative… in order to achieve a state of peace in the Middle East on the basis of a two-state solution,” he told Asharq al-Awsat.

On his visit to Tehran earlier this month, Abe said he wants Japan to play an important role in mitigating tension in the region, noting that armed clashes must be avoided. “Iran must play a constructive role and comply with the nuclear agreement for the sake of peace and security in the region.”

Abe added that Japan will continue to cooperate with all countries to reduce tensions, despite the difficulties it may face.

Asked about the attack on the Japanese tanker in the Gulf of Oman, which coincided with his visit to Iran, Abe said the attacks are a “serious threat” to the country’s peace and prosperity.

“We strongly condemn these attacks which jeopardize our ships,” he said, adding that Japan will continue to gather information with other countries to guarantee the security of navigation.

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