TOKYO: Japan will next month attend a meeting of foreign ministers from Gulf Cooperation Council member states.

A GCC source told Arab News Japan on Monday that the gathering in Saudi Arabia was “expected to be held in the first week of September.”

Tokyo aims to strengthen its ties with oil-producing countries to ensure stable energy supplies from the Middle East.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa will attend the meeting and may also visit Egypt and Jordan, media sources said.

The GCC is a union of six countries in the Gulf region, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.

Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio 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 News reported, adding that Iran’s nuclear program may also be on the agenda.

Resource-poor Japan is looking to beef up its energy security, as it remains highly dependent on imports of oil and liquefied natural gas. It relies on the Middle East for more than 90 percent of its crude oil.