RIYADH: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo arrived in Riyadh on Saturday on the first leg of his Middle East trip to further enhance bilateral cooperation between Tokyo and the region.
After the Kingdom, Abe will visit the UAE to explain Japanese plans to send Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel to the region, the Japan Times said, citing government sources.
Upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia, he was received by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh region.
Abe is expected to make a trip to the historical site of AlUla, where he will have a meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The first Joint Group meeting between Abe and was held in Riyadh, on Oct. 9, 2016. The Joint Group strives to serve as the platform for cooperation and exchange among subgroup representatives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Abe last visited Saudi Arabia in 2013 when he held talks with King Abdullah and then-Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and signed an investment agreement between Japan and the Kingdom.
During the meeting with the then-crown prince, the two sides decided to start a security dialogue and promote defense exchanges while expanding cooperation in politics and security.
Abe also delivered a policy speech titled, “Japan’s Ties with the Middle East in a New Age of Synergy, Mutual Prosperity, and Cooperation.”
Abe also made a visit to the Kingdom in 2007 during his first term as prime minister (2006–2007).
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is expected to also visit Oman.