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Late last month I flew from Washington, across Europe, Turkey and Iran to the Strait of Hormuz and beyond.

After three days in Muscat, the capital of Oman and a crucial mediator in Middle East disputes, I flew on to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, very far, both geographically and culturally, from the Pacific, where I spend most of my time, yet no doubt crucial to the future of Japan in world affairs.

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