Mon, Jun 03, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Japan’s Shinzo Abe hoping to mediate between US, Iran

AFP, TOKYO

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later this month with Tokyo hoping to mediate between Washington and Tehran, a report said yesterday.

As tensions intensify between Iran and the US, Abe has reportedly proposed serving as a go-between and is said to be weighing up a state visit to Iran.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun, Abe’s planned meeting with Khamenei would be the first such talks between a Japanese prime minister and the Iranian leader.

US President Donald Trump last week during his state visit to Tokyo said that he remained open to talks with Tehran, appearing to have given the green light to Abe’s plan.

Abe would also meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani before meeting Khamenei during his three-day visit to Iran that begins on Wednesday next week, the newspaper said, citing unnamed government sources.

Before Trump flew to Japan, the US had announced it was sending 1,500 extra troops to the Persian Gulf region, adding to the aircraft carrier group and nuclear-capable bomber planes already dispatched.

However, on Monday last week in Tokyo, Trump offered assurances that he could live with the Islamic republic’s government, whose toppling has long been a dream for Washington hardliners.

“We’re not looking for regime change,” Trump said, adding that he only cared about Iran not achieving nuclear power status.

“I do believe that Iran would like to talk, and if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also,” Trump added.

Khamenei has likened negotiations with the Trump administration to “poison” since “they don’t stand by anything,” referring to Washington’s withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed by Tehran and world powers.

Tokyo and Iran have kept a good relationship as Japan relies heavily on imports of Middle East oil, although Iranian crude accounted for just 5.3 percent of Japan’s total imports last year.

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