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Japan seeks Saudi defense, infrastructure ties -- press

TOKYO, April 23 (KUNA) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose a comprehensive alliance on defense and infrastructural cooperation when he visits Saudi Arabia later this month, a leading financial daily here reported Tuesday.
As a first step, Abe aims to arrange meetings between high-level officials from the countries' defense and foreign ministries to discuss such topics as how to deal with possible emergencies in the Arabian Gulf region, terrorism and maritime piracy, the Nikkei Shimbun said. The premier hopes to enhance communication between troops by, for example, unifying commands and computer systems, the report said.
Both countries already engage in joint minesweeping activities as part of multinational military exercises.
Tokyo has been working to strengthen its military ties in the Middle East and Africa ever since the hostage crisis in Algeria in January. At that time, it was slow to obtain information on the developments because it had no way of communicating with Algerian forces. Energy-saving and other environmental technologies are another pillar of Abe's collaboration plan, the daily said, adding that the government hopes to dispatch engineers and other experts to Saudi Arabia for two- to three-year stretches at the other government's expense to transfer expertise on water conservation and urban infrastructure development. (end) mk.rk KUNA 230946 Apr 13NNNN