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Tokyo and Riyadh reached a bilateral agreement Sunday on Saudi Arabia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, Japanese officials said. The agreement is the first of its kind that Saudi Arabia has made with any of its major economic partners and a step toward joining the WTO. It was reached in Riyadh between Takashi Fukaya, head of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and Usama Bin Jaafar Ibrahim Faqeeh, Saudi Arabia’s minister of commerce. “As a result of the comprehensive negotiations between the delegations of Saudi Arabia and Japan, a satisfactory agreement was reached in principle on trade in goods and services in the context of Saudi Arabia’s accession to the WTO,” the two ministers said in a joint press communique issued in Riyadh on Sunday. While reaffirming their determination to continue working closely in the working party negotiations in Geneva to realize the Mideast nation’s entry into the WTO, the two ministers said the conclusion of the bilateral talks would further contribute to strengthening the deep-rooted economic relations between the two. The agreement was also a last-ditch effort on behalf of Japan to win renewal of drilling rights off Saudi Arabia’s coast for the quasigovernmental Arabian Oil Co. The rights, in the Khafji oil field, expire Feb. 27, and their renewal is being held up by Japan’s refusal to aid in the construction of a mining railway.

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