Japan’s Abe to embark on Middle East tour

Middle East

Amid simmering tensions between the US and Iran, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be flying to the Middle East tomorrow on a five-day tour to “help stabilise the region”.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Tokyo, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the premier will meet leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, Kyodo news reported.

“Abe will exchange views with [the leaders of] the three countries, which play important roles in easing tensions and stabilising the situation in the region,” Suga said.

Previously, reports emerged that Abe had cancelled plans to travel to the Middle East following the US’ assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The Japanese premier’s trip is linked to Tokyo’s plans to deploy its forces to the Gulf of Oman and the Bab El-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. “He [Abe] plans to seek cooperation on ensuring stable energy supplies and safe navigation,” Suga added.

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, imports about 90 per cent of its crude oil from the Middle East.

READ: Japan briefs Iran on plan to send forces to Middle East

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