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Iran's Rouhani to Visit Japan amid Heightened Tensions with US

Iran's Rouhani to Visit Japan amid Heightened Tensions with US

Tuesday, 17 December, 2019 - 11:00
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Reuters)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will visit Japan on December 20-21 and meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the Asian country looks to resolve Tehran's nuclear impasse with Washington.


Japan maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously tried to ease tensions between the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations after Iran's 1979 revolution.


Tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington since last year when President Donald Trump pulled out the United States from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and re-imposed sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.


"Our country will persistently continue to support diplomatic efforts in cooperation with the United States, Iran and various other related countries aimed at easing tensions in the Middle East," Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference on Tuesday.


He said the two leaders will meet on December 20.


Abe had traveled to Tehran in June to try to ease tension between the United States and Iran in the Gulf.


Noting Japan's alliance with the United States and Tokyo's "favorable relations" with Tehran, Abe said he would make efforts "as much as possible to help ease tensions" in the Middle East.


Japan was formerly a major buyer of Iranian crude but stopped purchases to comply with US sanctions imposed after the United States unilaterally quit the nuclear deal in May 2018.


Rouhani would be the first Iranian president to visit Japan since 2000.


Rouhani plans to tell Abe that the Iranian government would not oppose a deployment of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East, Kyodo news agency reported, citing a source.


Iran has rejected the presence of foreign forces in the region, saying it would create insecurity for oil and shipping.


Kyodo said the Japanese deployment will be sent to the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, citing a draft plan.


Tokyo has decided not to be part of a US-led coalition to ensure maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the world's oil industry, the news agency added.


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