Japan PM Shinzo Abe in Tehran to defuse US-Iran tensions
“Amid concerns over growing tension in the Middle East, and with the attention of the international community on the issue, Japan wishes to do its best toward peace and stability in the region,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo before leaving for Tehran.
Abe’s trip is the first by a Japanese premier since Iran’s Islamic Revolution four decades ago. The last Japanese prime minister to visit Iran was Takeo Fukuda in 1978. In Tehran, Abe is scheduled to hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior leaders of the Islamic Republic.
Abe’s Iran trip comes at a time when Tehran finds itself increasingly boxed in by intensifying US sanctions, which will likely cut the Middle Eastern nation off from its main oil customers.
Read more: US President Trump ‘open to talk’ to ‘threatening’ Iran
US President Donald Trump’s administration has taken an increasingly hawkish stance against Tehran, with Washington recently dispatching an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the Persian Gulf, among other measures.
During Trump’s state visit to Tokyo at the end of May, the US president did not oppose Abe’s plan to travel to Iran. Both Abe and Trump also discussed Iran over phone on Tuesday. “The two leaders exchanged views on regional issues, including the situation in Iran,” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters.