Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani agreed Wednesday to start negotiations for an investment agreement as the resource-rich Arab country is expected to see an increase in infrastructure projects before hosting the soccer World Cup in 2022.
During their talks in Doha, the leaders agreed to cooperate in building basic infrastructure such as stadiums, and railway and sewage systems, and to ensure stable supplies of crude oil and liquefied natural gas from Qatar, one of Japan's major suppliers, Japanese government officials said.
Abe is aiming to encourage more Japanese companies to do business and invest overseas as part of reviving the deflation-mired economy at home.
On a six-day trip that has taken him to Bahrain, Kuwait, Djibouti and Qatar, Abe has pointed to the importance of maritime security and offered cooperation in infrastructure-building where Japanese companies have an advantage.
The Japanese and Qatari leaders agreed to promote defense exchanges and to hold a ministerial strategic dialogue between Japan and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Energy is a major issue for resource-poor Japan and Abe reached similar agreements with the leaders of Bahrain and Kuwait. The security dialogue will likely be held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in late September at the earliest, the officials said.
With Tokyo eager to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, Abe met separately with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, a voting member of the International Olympic Committee, to seek his support.