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Riyadh, Tokyo to cooperate on energy security, recycled carbon fuels and ammonia

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it remains committed to securing oil supplies for Japan and will continue cooperating with Tokyo on clean hydrogen, ammonia and recycled carbon fuels.

The kingdom will keep supplying Saudi crude oil for Okinawa's government oil reserves in southern Japan, a statement posted on the energy ministry's website quoted Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as saying.

"We continue to guarantee oil supply to Japan and maintain our position as the most reliable partner," Prince Abdulaziz said. "Saudi is Japan's biggest oil exporter fulfilling 40% of its total needs."

The energy minister's comments came after Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held meetings with Saudi leaders in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, where he arrived on Sunday as part of a Middle East tour. Kishida will also visit the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also announced the resumption of talks on a free trade agreement, according to a statement issued on Sunday by the council, a union of six countries in the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.

Kishida and the GCC secretary general signed a joint statement to resume negotiations, which will mark the third such attempt by Japan and the GCC to ink a trade pact, with negotiations previously held in 2006 and 2007.

The Saudi energy ministry said it signed agreements with the Japanese industry and trade ministry to develop clean hydrogen, production of ammonia and its derivatives and recycled carbon fuels.

The two countries signed 26 cooperation agreements during the visit, Saudi Arabia's Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih told state-run Al Ekhbariya television.

According to Japan's Nikkei on Saturday, Kishida and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are set to agree on rare earth resources cooperation and to jointly explore development projects in other countries.

A senior official at Japan's foreign ministry told reporters this week that Kishida plans to discuss energy markets during his trip, while also aiming to offer Japanese technologies for net zero transition.

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