TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is making preparations for a meeting of foreign ministers from Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states in Saudi Arabia in early September, Kyodo news agency said on Sunday, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.
Japan aims to strengthen ties with oil-producing countries to ensure a stable energy supply from the Middle East, where the influence of the United States is declining while China’s influence is rising, Kyodo said.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will attend the meeting and may also visit Egypt and Jordan, Kyodo said.
No comment was immediately available from Japan’s foreign ministry.
The GCC is a union of six countries in the Gulf region: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the Middle East in July when Japan and the GCC announced the resumption of talks on a free trade agreement.
The foreign ministers are expected to discuss a free trade deal and technical cooperation in next-generation energy sources, Kyodo said, adding that Iran’s nuclear programme may also be on the agenda.
Resource-poor Japan is trying to beef up its energy security, as it remains highly dependent on imports of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG). It relies on the Middle East for more than 90% of its crude oil.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Edmund Klamann)
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