Japan’s Abe to visit Iran in bid to cool tensions between Washington, Tehran

TOKYO — Shinzo Abe plans to travel to Iran next week, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in more than four decades, as Tokyo hopes to ease Middle East tension by mediating between Washington and Tehran.

A government official tells AFP that Tokyo was still arranging details, including who Abe will meet, but local media have said he will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

As tensions intensify between Iran and Japan’s key ally the United States, Abe has reportedly proposed serving as a go-between by directly holding talks with Iran’s key leaders.

“We believe it is extremely important that, at the leadership level, we call on Iran as a major regional power to ease tension, to adhere to the nuclear agreement and to play a constructive role for the region’s stability,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tells a regular press briefing.

The visit, from June 12-14, will be the first by a Japanese leader in 41 years, Suga saus.

During his state visit to Tokyo in late May, US President Donald Trump said he remained open to talks with Tehran, appearing to give the green light to Abe’s plan.


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, shake hands at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo May 16, 2019. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed