Iran to Ask Japanese Prime Minister to Mediate Talks Over U.S. Oil Sanctions

Iranian official says he hopes Abe, arriving in Tehran for a rare visit, 'can help ease the ongoing tensions' that were sparked since Washington pulled out of nuclear deal

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Trump welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the south of Tokyo, May 26, 2019.
Trump welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the south of Tokyo, May 26, 2019.Credit: Kimimasa Mayama / AP

Iran will ask Japan to mediate between Tehran and Washington to ease oil sanctions imposed by the United States, Iranian officials told Reuters ahead of a visit to Iran by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe, who is the first Japanese leader to visit Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, arrives in Tehran as heightened tensions between Iran and the United States raise fears of another military conflict in the crisis-hit Middle East.

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“Japan can help easing the ongoing tension between Iran and America ... as a goodwill gesture, America should either lift the unjust oil sanctions or extend the waivers or suspend them,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

Another official said “Mr. Abe can be a great mediator to facilitate that.”

On a four-day visit to Japan last month, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Abe’s help in dealing with Iran.

Strains between Washington and Tehran have sharply increased in recent weeks, a year after the United States abandoned a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

Washington tightened sanctions from the start of May, ordering all countries and companies to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.

It has also dispatched extra troops to the region to counter what it describes as Iranian threats.