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Japan’s Abe Plans To Visit Iran; Will He Mediate Between Tehran and Washington?

June 6, 2019 (EIRNS)—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Iran in the near future, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, without mentioning the dates or other details of the trip, at a press briefing on June 6 in Tokyo. A government official told AFP that Tokyo was “still arranging details, including whom our prime minister will meet there,” but local media have said Abe will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

There is wide-ranging speculation in international media that Abe, who has developed close relations with the U.S. President Donald Trump, will act as a mediator to cool off the U.S.-Iran confrontation. In a state visit to Japan on May 26-28, in which President Trump was the first head of state to visit since the enthronement of Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, the President appeared to endorse a mission in which Abe would serve as an intermediary between Iran and the United States. Trump stated that Japan and Abe have a “very good relationship with Iran,” amid Japanese media reports that the Prime Minister was considering a trip there. “I do believe that Iran would like to talk. And if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also.... But I know for a fact that the Prime Minister is very close with the leadership of Iran, and we’ll see what happens. That would be fine. Nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me,” Trump replied during their press conference.

Also, Abe hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in May. While in Tokyo, Zarif expressed hope that Japan and other U.S. allies will take “practical measures in order to maintain this valuable international agreement,” referring to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite cordial relations, Japan-Iran summits are rare: The two countries established relations in 1929. The last Japanese Prime Minister to visit Iran was Takeo Fukuda in 1978. In October 2000 Iranian President Mohammad Khatami visited Japan, the first visit by an Iranian President, and the first head of state from Iran to visit in 42 years, reported the Japanese Foreign Ministry website.

Shinzo Abe accompanied his father, Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, to Iran in 1983, when Foreign Minister Abe attempted to mediate in the Iran-Iraq War.

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