(Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler will no longer travel to Japan this weekend, canceling what would have been his first visit in three years to one of the kingdom’s biggest oil customers.
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Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a trip between Saturday and Monday, according to broadcaster TBS.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the visit was canceled. The prince was in Thailand on Friday for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and met Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The Japan External Trade Organization said it had been asked by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment to cancel its Vision 2030 Business Forum scheduled for Nov. 21. It said that was because delegates, including Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, were no longer flying to the country.
Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners, with close to $34 billion of trade between them last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The kingdom is Japan’s biggest supplier of crude oil, selling it about 1 million barrels a day.
Tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia have escalated since Riyadh orchestrated an OPEC+ oil-production cut in October. But most other major importers, including Japan, have not criticized the kingdom publicly.
Last month, the Saudi government said doctors told the prince to abstain from “long-distance and nonstop travel by plane” because of an ear problem. He skipped an Arab League summit in Algeria and also didn’t travel to India earlier in November, as some Indian media reported he would.
Still, he flew to the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia this week, before going to South Korea on Thursday. There, he met President Yoon Suk Yeol and local business executives.
The 37-year-old rarely traveled during the Covid-19 pandemic. He made a rare regional tour in June before hosting US President Joe Biden in the kingdom in July. Later that month, he went to Greece and France.
–With assistance from Shoko Oda.
(Updates with visit to Thailand.)
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