Japan and Kuwait renewed their energy partnership while vowing to work together for stability in Iraq and urge Iran to resolve the crisis over its nuclear ambition.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took his energy security tour to Kuwait after striking an accord with the United Arab Emirates to finance resource development projects.
Abe held talks with Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah separately, on the first visit to the Gulf Arab state by a Japanese premier.
"The Kuwaiti side expressed its commitment to assure steady and stable oil supplies to Japan," the two countries said in a joint statement released after the two meetings. "The Japanese side also expressed its willingness to enhance technical cooperation and other support for the upstream and other oil sectors in Kuwait," the statement said.
Japan is Kuwait’s biggest oil buyer and crude oil shipments to Japan totaled 7.1 billion dollars in 2005, which accounted for some eight percent of the total.
Abe has already met leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in his five-country Middle East tour aimed to seek energy security and widen ties with the energy-rich region.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed an agreement to boost Japanese investment in resources-related projects in the UAE. Under the accord, the Japanese government-run bank will consider providing ADNOC with loans expected to amount to around one billion dollars, a foreign ministry source said.
Details of the planned loan, including the total amount, have yet to be decided.
"The UAE is playing an important role in Japan’s security of stable energy supply, and it is extremely significant to strengthen ties with ADNOC, a key player in that context," the bank said.
Japan is increasingly concerned by potential threats to its energy supply.
It has virtually no oil or gas reserves of its own, and relies for more than 70% of its oil supply on the four Gulf Arab states that Abe is currently touring.
On the regional diplomatic front, Abe and Sabah agreed to make more efforts to help subdue conflicts in Iraq.
"The two leaders confirmed that the stability of Iraq would directly affect peace and prosperity of Kuwait," a Japanese government official said. "As a neighbour country, we will continue strengthening measures" to help achieve stability in Iraq, Sabah was quoted by the Japanese official as telling Abe.
Japan’s first premier to be born after World War II plans to visit its personnel posted in Kuwait for an air force mission supporting US-led operations in Iraq on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Abe voiced concern about Iran’s nuclear crisis. Sabah said, "If Iran uses nuclear energy peacefully, Kuwait can have benefit. If Iran uses nuclear energy militarily, it will bring some trouble to Kuwait."