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EghtesadOnline: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Tokyo is in discussions about a possible visit to Japan by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later this month, in an attempt to try to resolve Iran’s nuclear impasse with the United States.

He also said Japan wants to make every possible effort to promote Middle East peace, Reuters reported.

Japan maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran, and has previously tried to ease tension between the two countries. The US broke off diplomatic relations after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Citing diplomatic sources, Kyodo News had also reported on Sunday that the US approved Japan's plan to have Rouhani visit the country, as Tehran is seeking to break a deadlock over the nuclear deal with world powers, according to Financial Tribune.

Washington has also urged Tokyo to share the outcome of the possible summit between Abe and Rouhani, the sources said. A senior US official has relayed the message to Japan.

Japanese and Iranian officials are arranging for Rouhani to visit around Dec. 20, according to the sources. If realized, it would be the first visit by an Iranian president since Mohammad Khatami in October 2000.



Long-Standing Friendship 

Building on years of friendship, Japan has been stepping up efforts to reach out to Iran, which is reeling from economic sanctions that US President Donald Trump reinstated after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Abe, an ally of Trump, visited Iran in June, becoming the first Japanese prime minister to do so since 1978 in the hope of brokering dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

During the potential visit by Rouhani, Abe is expected to demand that Iran fully comply with the nuclear deal, the sources said. Tehran has gradually stepped away from the deal’s commitments after failing to get relief from economic sanctions.

Abe may also seek Iran's understanding toward Japanese plans to send Self-Defense Forces personnel to the Middle East, the sources said. The Japanese government is considering the dispatch of a destroyer and a patrol plane to the region to enhance information-gathering capabilities and ensure the safe navigation of ships.

On Tuesday, Abe met with Abbas Araqchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs, in Tokyo. The special envoy of Rouhani informed Abe of the president's intention to visit Japan, the sources said.


Tokyo Iran Hassan Rouhani United States Rouhani Japan Shinzo Abe visit Abe nuclear impasse