/

Japan, Kuwait to start dialogue for maritime security

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Monday with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheik Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah, to launch a bilateral dialogue among foreign and defense policy officials on ensuring the security of sea lanes that are vital to transporting crude oil.

The two leaders also confirmed that Japan will expand cooperation in developing infrastructure such as sewers, subway systems and oil refinery facilities in Kuwait, according to a joint statement by the leaders.

They expressed serious concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and stressed the importance of the investigations by weapons experts from the U.N., Japanese officials said.

Earlier in the day, Abe met with Crown Prince Sheik Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah to seek support for Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics just days ahead of an International Olympic Committee session for selecting the venue.

The security dialogue among officials was an issue also discussed during Abe’s talks with Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa on Saturday. Abe is on a six-day trip to the Middle East through Thursday. Japan sourced roughly three-quarters of its crude oil imports in 2011 from six Arab nations comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Persian Gulf. Kuwait is a GCC member and the fourth-biggest supplier of crude to Japan.

Al-Jaber endorsed a launch of strategic ministerial talks between Japan and the GCC, which also includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the officials said.

In other issues, the two leaders agreed to step up cooperation in prompting safety and disaster preparedness for nuclear power generation in light of the Fukushima meltdown calamity, according to the joint statement.

Abe conveyed his appreciation to his counterpart for providing oil worth around ¥40 billion and extending financial support via the Japanese Red Cross Society since the disaster started, the statement said.