EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani set off on a trip to Malaysia and Japan on Tuesday to pursue the Islamic Republic's longtime goal of "looking to the East" and "establishing closer ties with major Asian countries".
"Our meetings will be bilateral in Japan and multilateral and centered on the Muslim world in Malaysia," he told reporters in Tehran before his departure, the presidential website reported.
In Malaysia, the president is set to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit that is to be held on Dec. 18-21, hosting 400 participants, including at least 250 political leaders and thinkers from 52 countries.
The event is an international platform for Muslim leaders, intellectuals and scholars from across the world to discuss and exchange ideas about Muslim world issues, Financial Tribune reported.
In addition to addressing the summit and elaborating on Iran's regional policies, Rouhani will hold talks with a number of participating authorities to discuss issues of mutual interest as well as regional and international affairs.
The president regretted that the Muslim world still faces serious problems in spite of its great capacities in terms of territory, energy, population, industry, culture and civilization.
"Terrorism, war and bloodshed, foreign interference, poverty and absence of conditions required for development are among issues facing the Muslim world," he said.
Rouhani noted that Iran and Malaysia share similar views about problems in the region and the Muslim world, and both countries believe in dialogue and negotiation to address the issues.
He reminded that along this line, Iran has introduced two proposals, namely a draft resolution for "A World Against Violence and Violent Extremism", which was adopted by the United Nations twice in 2013 and 2015, and the Hormuz Peace Endeavor for the Persian Gulf region that was unveiled during the latest UN General Assembly in September.
Meeting With Abe
Rouhani will head from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo on Dec. 19 for a two-day visit and is slated to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Dec 20.
The two top officials have met several times during their terms, which indicate an improvement in Iran-Japan ties.
“This will be the third meeting with Japan's prime minister this year," Rouhani said.
“Japan has made important investments in Iran and is now cooperating closely in environmental projects.”
The president added that today's reduction in bilateral ties results from the United States' "cruel pressure and illegal sanctions", but stressed that these hostile measures will not last long, because most countries want to have closer ties with Iran.
Following its exit from the 2015 nuclear deal last year, Washington placed sweeping sanctions on Tehran which, along with its threats against countries that do business with Iran, have seriously restricted the country's trade with the world.
"The trip to Tokyo is aimed at facilitating bilateral relations and discussing important mutual issues," he said, adding that regional security, especially the safety of shipping, which is of great concern to Japan, will also be discussed.
Japan holds friendly ties with both Iran and the US, and has been seeking to promote dialogue between Tehran and Washington.
This has raised speculations that the main purpose of the recent trip is to make way for Tehran-Washington negotiations.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi dismissed the idea, saying such talks are not on the agenda.
"The main topic of discussion is bilateral issues … regional and international problems, JCPOA [formal name of the nuclear deal], American policies and its maximum pressure," he was quoted as saying by ISNA.