AL-ULA, SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has expressed full support for Japan’s dispatch of a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and patrol aircraft to the Middle East, during a meeting with visiting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday.
At the talks, held in Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia’s northwest, Abe sought Riyadh’s understanding and cooperation for the MSDF mission in the sea off Yemen and Oman, which Tokyo says is aimed at gathering information to ensure the safe navigation of ships in the region, including those owned or operated by Japan.
In response, the crown prince, who has taken charge of domestic politics for aging 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 stability in the Middle East and safe navigation in the region.
Japan is sending SDF personnel and assets to enhance its own intelligence-gathering capabilities in areas that include the Gulf of Oman and part of the Arabian Sea.
But the Strait of Hormuz near Iran, a key shipping lane, is out of scope for the mission, as Japan wants to draw a clear distinction between its own deployment and a U.S.-led maritime security initiative that Tokyo has not joined.