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Abe plans summit with Saudi king

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit Saudi Arabia for a summit with King Abdullah as part of his Middle East tour during the Golden Week holidays, diplomatic sources said.

It would be the first visit to Saudi Arabia by a Japanese prime minister since Abe’s previous trip to the kingdom in April 2007, during his first stint at the government helm.

Since the country has the second-largest oil reserves in the world and the sixth-biggest natural gas reserves, Abe’s administration is looking to strengthen ties with Riyadh to ensure stable and secure energy supplies.

A senior Foreign Ministry official will be dispatched to Saudi Arabia, possibly as early as Monday, to expedite preparatory work for Abe’s visit from late April to early May, including on an agenda for the planned summit. Tokyo and Riyadh will also make arrangements to issue a joint document at the conclusion of Abe’s meeting with King Abdullah, according to the sources.

At their talks, Abe is expected to call for greater cooperation in the provision of stable oil supplies to Japan, which in 2011 received 30 percent of its total crude imports from Saudi Arabia.

For its part, Riyadh plans to build nuclear reactors by 2030 to avoid overly depleting its vast oil reserves, the country’s key source of foreign currency. Abe and the king are expected to discuss Saudi Arabia’s future import of reactor technologies from Japan and to exchange views on the need for a bilateral agreement on atomic power.

Abe also plans to visit the United Arab Emirates during his regional trip and hold a summit with the Gulf nation’s leader in Abu Dhabi, government sources said, adding the prime minister is also considering a possible stopover in Egypt.