Japan has received a letter from Saudi Arabia calling for accelerating negotiations on renewing Tokyo-based Arabian Oil Co.’s drilling rights in the Khafji oil field, International Trade and Industry Minister Takashi Fukaya said Friday. “I suppose the letter is meant to convey their readiness to meet me, and I’d like to respond in a sincere manner,” Fukaya told a news conference. “The situation is now getting to the stage where Arabian Oil can enter full-scale negotiations with the Saudi Arabian government.” In the letter, Saudi Arabia is calling for talks between those in charge of bilateral cooperation, according to a ministry official. The current 40-year agreement granting Arabian Oil exclusive drilling rights is due to expire in February. Arabian Oil, Japan’s largest oil producer with strong backing from the government, has been trying to have the rights extended, but the Saudi Arabian government has yet to approve the move. Oil produced by the firm in the Khafji field, located off the former neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, accounts for 5 percent of Japan’s crude oil imports.

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