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Abe to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Plays Crucial Role in Middle East Peace

Abe to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Plays Crucial Role in Middle East Peace

Wednesday, 26 June, 2019 - 05:45
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Reuters)
Tokyo - Ghassan Charbel

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in peace and stability in the region and Tokyo supports the internal reform efforts pursued by the Kingdom.

“We are therefore seeking to bolster the strategic partnership between the two countries,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat as Osaka prepares to host the G20 summit on Friday and Saturday.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, is heading Saudi Arabia’s delegation at the summit.

Abe said that he has worked closely with the Crown Prince in bilateral cooperation, as well as on regional and international affairs.

He noted that Tokyo had hosted the third Japanese-Saudi Vision 2030 ministerial meeting on June 17. The discussions underlined the importance of cooperation in various fields, including economy, human resources and cultural exchange.

At the G20 summit, the PM said that he was looking forward to exchanging ideas with Crown Prince Mohammed on how to bolster bilateral ties and cooperation.

Saudi Arabia is scheduled to host the 2020 G20 summit.

Abe told Asharq Al-Awsat that he had held two telephone calls with Crown Prince Mohammed in 2019 and “we are cooperating closely to ensure the success of the Osaka meeting so that we can hand over the presidency of the summit to Saudi Arabia.”

Turning to the situation in the Middle East, Abe said it has become “more complicated” in recent years due to the stalled peace process and war in Syria.

Japan is standing in a neutral position in regards to religion, sect and history and it boasts good ties with all countries in the Middle East. This unique position allows it to exchange ideas with the United States in order to achieve peace and stability in the region, he remarked.

On his visit to Tehran earlier this month, the PM noted that tensions were rising in the Middle East due to Iran, urging the need to avoid armed conflict because peace and stability in the region will lead to prosperity throughout the world, including Japan.

Abe said that he wants Tokyo to play an important role in easing tensions in the region, which is why he made his trip to Iran.

Iran must play a “constructive” role for peace and security to prevail in the region, he stressed. It must respect the nuclear.

The road to easing tensions is riddled with many challenges and Japan will continue its cooperation with concerned parties to achieve this goal.

Addressing the attack on a Japanese oil tanker in the Arabian Gulf while he was visiting Iran, Abe described the development as a “serious threat” to peace and prosperity in his country. He strongly condemned the attack, saying Tokyo will continue to gather information with relevant countries to ensure safe marine navigation in the area.

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