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Staff writer

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah plans to make an official visit to Japan next month to strengthen bilateral political and economic relations, government sources said Wednesday.

Abdullah is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Oct. 21 on his way home from visits to the United States and European countries such as Britain and France, the sources said.

During his Japan stay, which will last a few days, the crown prince, the ailing King Fahd’s son, will meet with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and other Japanese political and economic leaders, the sources said.

The sources said that the governments of Japan and Saudi Arabia are putting the finishing touches on a program to build a “comprehensive partnership toward the 21st century” so that it can be signed during the crown prince’s Tokyo visit.

When then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto made a whirlwind visit to Riyadh last November, he proposed to the Saudi leaders that the two countries build such a partnership through increased cooperation in such areas as education, the environment, science and technology, culture, politics and economics.

The Saudi leaders agreed to the proposal. Since Hashimoto’s Riyadh trip, high-level government officials of the two countries have worked on the action program for building the partnership.

Japan currently purchases about 80 percent of its oil from the Middle East, the highest percentage since the first oil crisis in the early 1970s. Saudi Arabia supplies about 20 percent of Japan’s crude oil imports.

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