RIYADH (Kyodo) Japan and Saudi Arabia agreed Saturday to cooperate in expediting the construction of nuclear power plants, Japanese officials said.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between trade minister Akihiro Ohata and Hashin bin Abdullah Yamani, chief of the Saudi government’s new energy organization, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Riyadh, the officials said.

Saudi Arabia plans to build nuclear power plants to prevent electricity shortages stemming from population growth and to conserve crude oil resources.

Ohata proposed providing Riyadh with a range of assistance, such as by training Saudis in nuclear power generation technology, compiling the necessary laws, and other means, they said.

He also proposed the two countries sign documents to expedite the cooperation in a speedy manner, they said.

The proposals were accepted by Yamani, the officials said, adding that the details of the pact will be hammered out in working-level talks.

Japan hopes the assistance will help Japanese companies win Saudi project orders.

In a related development the same day, Ohata and Saudi Minister of National Economy and Planning Khalid Al-Gosaibi agreed to push cooperation in the fields of nuclear power and renewable energy, according to officials.

Last October, the governments of Japan and Vietnam agreed to have Hanoi place two nuclear reactor orders with Japanese companies.

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