Trump, Japanese Premier Abe Discuss Iran in a Phone Conversation

Abe is due to hold talks with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rohani during his upcoming three-day trip to the Islamic Republic

File photo: U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walk on board Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's (JMSDF) helicopter carrier DDH-184 Kaga in Yokosuka, May 28, 2019.
AFP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump over the phone on Tuesday to discuss Iran, one day before the premier's three-day trip to the Islamic Republic amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran, Tokyo said.

Trump and Abe "exchanged views on regional situations, including the one in Iran," government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Abe, who will become the first Japanese premier to visit Iran in 41 years, is due to hold talks with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rohani during his stay, Suga said.

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Abe's trip to Iran comes when this year marks the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Suga added.

Abe is willing to serve as an intermediary, as Japan has friendly relations with Iran, which the country has long relied on for oil imports.

During his stay in Japan in late May, Trump did not oppose Abe's plan to hold meetings with Iranian leaders, while Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, described the premier's planned visit "a turning point."

The U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran last year and imposed a series of sanctions aimed at crippling Iran's economy.

In mid-May, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to Japan, urging Tokyo to take action to protect the deal.

The other signatories to the deal - Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China plus the European Union - have expressed the desire to keep it alive.