Japan Arranging for PM Abe Visit to Iran Soon
By Staff, Agencies
Japan is arranging for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Iran in the near future, Japan’s government spokesman said on Thursday, although details of the trip are being worked out.
Japanese media has said the visit would take place next week, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to specify a date or say whether Abe would meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
“We will make efforts to make it meaningful,” Suga told a regular news conference about the trip, which would make Abe the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit Iran in more than four decades.
The trip comes amid escalating tension between Iran and the United States and a year after the United States pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions.
On a visit to Japan late last month, US President Donald Trump welcomed Abe’s help in dealing with Iran after public broadcaster NHK had said Japan’s leader was considering a trip to Tehran.
Japan is keen to see stability in the Midle East as the bulk of its oil imports come from the region, although it recently stopped buying oil from Iran because of US sanctions.
Diplomatic experts said the most Abe could probably achieve would be to persuade Iran and the United States to resume direct talks and dial down tension.
Both sides may be seeking a face-saving way out of the confrontation, they said, and Abe is well placed to help out.
Japan and Iran have long had friendly ties and are celebrating the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. Abe has forged warm relations with Trump.