Japan, Saudi Arabia agree to cooperate in Riyadh's hosting of G-20

©Kyodo News

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Saturday he agreed with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud in Riyadh to closely cooperate over the Arab country's hosting of the Group of 20 major economies' summit in November.

At the virtual G-20 summit set for Nov. 21-22, Japan, which held last year's G-20 presidency, expects Saudi Arabia to exert leadership in pushing multilateral cooperation for the development and procurement of novel coronavirus vaccines and in pushing global innovation and digitalization, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

On regional matters, the ministers confirmed joint efforts toward stability in the Middle East, Motegi told an online press conference.

The region has seen dramatic changes with Israel and two Arab nations -- the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain -- signing agreements to normalize their respective bilateral ties in a U.S.-brokered deal in September.

Saudi Arabia is Motegi's third stop on a four-nation tour that includes Portugal, France and Kuwait. It is his first overseas trip since the launch of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government on Sept. 16, replacing nearly eight years of Shinzo Abe's administration.

Motegi said he told his counterparts in Portugal, France and Saudi Arabia that "Japan's diplomatic policy and its promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific vision remain unwavering under the Suga administration."

Since the Abe administration, Japan has been pushing and seeking support for its free and open Indo-Pacific concept, which is aimed at safeguarding the maritime commons in the region based on the rule of law, democracy and freedom of navigation apparently against China's rising maritime assertiveness in the area.

Motegi said they also exchanged views on the situations in the East and South China seas, where China is pushing its territorial claims with military and paramilitary activities, and on the North Korean situation.