Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a meeting with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday expressed full support for Japan's dispatch of a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and patrol aircraft to the Middle East.
At the talks, held in AlUla in northwestern Saudi Arabia, Abe sought Saudi Arabia's understanding and cooperation for the MSDF mission, which is aimed at gathering information to ensure safe navigation by ships related to Japan in the region.
In response, the crown prince, who takes charge of domestic politics for King Salman, said that his country fully supports Japan's efforts. Abe and the crown prince confirmed that Japan and Saudi Arabia will work together for the stability in the Middle East and safe navigation in the region.
Two P-3C patrol planes of the MSDF are set to begin their mission later this month. The MSDF's Takanami destroyer is slated to leave for the Middle East on Feb. 2.
On growing US-Iran tensions that have led to an exchange of military strikes, Abe said an armed conflict in the Middle East, including Iran, will greatly affect the peace and stability in not only the region but also elsewhere in the world.
Noting that any further escalation in the situation must absolutely be avoided, Abe emphasized that Japan will patiently continue making maximum diplomatic efforts to help ease the tensions and stabilize the regional situation.
The Saudi crown prince said that he completely agrees to Abe's views, adding that dialogue between countries concerned is crucial and that Saudi Arabia will further enhance its own efforts.
They affirmed that relevant countries should join forces to stabilize the Middle East situation and de-escalate the tensions.
Earlier this month, a US airstrike killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, prompting Tehran to retaliate by firing dozens of ballistic missiles on two Iraqi bases being used by US forces.
Stability in the Middle East is critical for Japan, which depends on the region for more than 80 percent of its crude oil imports.
Abe is trying to mediate between Washington and Tehran using Japan's close alliance with the United States and its longstanding friendship with Iran. Abe is in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his five-day Middle East tour that started Saturday. After Saudi Arabia, he will visit the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Saudi Arabia hopes to prevent the regional tensions from increasing further. Saudi Arabia is a member of a US-led coalition for ensuring maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz.
Abe and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also affirmed close cooperation between their countries for the success of a series of Group of 20 gatherings, including a summit meeting, to he hosted by Saudi Arabia this year. Japan served as host of last year's meetings of the 20 advanced and emerging economies.
The crown prince vowed to continue paying utmost attention to stable crude oil supply from Saudi Arabia to Japan.
Earlier on Sunday, Abe held a meeting with King Salman. They exchanged views on the Middle East situation, aiming to defuse the tensions between the United States and Iran.