Muscat – Japan is planning to have a meeting with the six GCC countries in Saudi Arabia next month to ensure a ‘stable energy supply’, Japanese media reported on Monday.

Quoting diplomatic sources, Japan Times reported that the move comes as the island country ‘aims to strengthen relations with oil-producing countries in the Middle East to ensure a stable energy supply as China’s foothold grows in the region amid waning US influence’.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is expected to attend the meeting, with visits to Egypt and Jordan also under consideration, the report said.

Japan relies on the six GCC countries for over 90% of its crude oil.

During his tour of the Middle East last month, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met GCC Secretary-General Jasem Mohamed al Budaiwi and agreed to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) and hold regular meetings between the Japanese foreign minister and counterparts from the GCC member nations.

Kishida’s trip from July 16 to 19 was aimed at reinforcement of Japan’s energy security, promotion of its green technology, and for the development of its economic ties with the regional forces.

During Kishida’s stop in the UAE, Japan and the UAE signed 23 agreements at the UAE-Japan Business Forum to strengthen cooperation in sectors including energy, industry, advanced technology, transportation, conservation, and the circular economy. Kishida’s meeting with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the leaders agreed to facilitate cooperation in hydrogen and ammonia production to accelerate the clean energy transition, with both states aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

‘The upcoming foreign ministers’ meeting is expected to further talks on the FTA and possible cooperation in the field of next-generation energy technologies, with Iran’s nuclear programme also possibly on the agenda,’ the report said.

In Egypt, Hayashi plans to participate in the third round of political dialogue with ministers from the Arab League, which groups together 21 Middle Eastern and African countries as well as the Palestinian Territories.

The Japanese government is also arranging to hold bilateral talks with some member states of the GCC and Arab League, according to the sources.

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