Saudi nuclear talks to move ahead

Kyodo

Japan and Saudi Arabia agreed Wednesday to accelerate bilateral talks for a civil nuclear cooperation accord that would enable Japanese manufacturers to export reactors to the Middle Eastern country.

The agreement came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz in Tokyo, where they also agreed that the two countries should enhance security cooperation through dialogue between their foreign and defense officials, a Japanese government official said.

“I would like to strengthen further the comprehensive partnership between the two countries,” Abe said at the start of the meeting. The crown prince, who is also deputy prime minister and defense minister, said he will seek to “further develop the existing cooperative relationship.”

The two countries also signed a memorandum on cooperation to facilitate corporate investment.

During their meeting last April in Saudi Arabia, Abe and the crown prince agreed to start preparatory talks on a civil nuclear pact before launching full negotiations as early as this spring.

Japan has been in talks for similar accords with other countries, including India, to increase exports of Japanese infrastructure. A civil nuclear accord sets a legal framework to prevent any diversion to military use when a country provides civil nuclear technology to another.

Abe also briefed the crown prince on Japan’s policy of proactively contributing to peace in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, based on the principle of international cooperation. The crown prince expressed his support, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The two assessed progress on bilateral cooperation in areas such as ensuring the safety of sea lanes to transport oil from the Middle East and countering terrorism. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, has promised stable supplies to Japan.

Ahead of the meeting with Abe, the Saudi crown prince also met with Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace.