Japanese PM Abe mulls June Iran visit amid Tehran's standoff with Washington

Japanese PM Abe mulls June Iran visit amid Tehran
# 24 May 2019 11:41 (UTC +04:00)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Iran in June for talks with its leadership to help ease escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, ONA reports citing Kyodo News Agency.

Abe is expected to make a final decision after consulting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to arrive in Japan as a state guest on Saturday. If realized, Abe will be the first sitting Japanese prime minister in about four decades to visit Iran, following Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda's 1978 trip.

As Japan has traditionally maintained amicable ties with Iran, Abe hopes to encourage Tehran to keep its commitments under a 2015 international nuclear deal, according to the sources. Abe expressed his concern about the U.S.-Iran standoff but offered to work with Tehran during a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last week in Tokyo.

Iran said in early May it plans to hold more enriched uranium than allowed under the nuclear deal initially sealed with the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. Tehran has set a 60-day deadline to negotiate new terms. The announcement came as the Trump administration has been hardening its stance on the West Asian nation, pulling out of the nuclear deal and reinstating crippling sanctions. Washington has sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf, ratcheting up tensions. Tokyo, a longtime U.S. security ally, has been put in a difficult position.

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