|13 January, 2020

Japan PM working with Saudi, Gulf leaders to calm regional tensions

Shinzo Abe said he and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman agreed that countries must avoid exacerbating the situation

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud walks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 12, 2020. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud walks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 12, 2020. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

AL ULA: Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said Monday he wants to work with Gulf leaders to find peaceful solutions to heightened tensions in the region.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Saudi Arabia for the second leg of his regional tour in the UAE, Shinzo Abe said he and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman agreed that countries must avoid exacerbating the situation.

“It is important for us to seize the opportunity and participate with them in finding peaceful solutions, which intend to minimize tensions in the region,” he said. “I would like to continue these diplomatic efforts and strengthen the bonds of friendship with the countries of the Middle East.”

Abe was speaking in Al Ula, the ancient site central to Saudi Arabia’s plans to open up the country to tourism.

“I have experienced the traditions and ancient culture that the Kingdom has preserved over the ages,” Abe said.

On Sunday, he shared dinner with the crown prince inside a Bedouin tent at Al Ula.

Abe arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday just as fears of an all-out military confrontation between the US and Iran had started to subside over the killing of Iran’s most powerful commander Qassem Soleimani.

He said he had discussed regional tensions with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Sunday.

“Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and I agree that we must avoid exacerbating the situation, and that all parties must work hard on their diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions the region is facing,” Abe said.

He added that Japan had supported the region by sending naval and air support to the Gulf to guarantee the safety of Japanese ships.

Abe arrived in the UAE Monday for talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and will then travel to Oman.

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