“We are worried about tensions in the Middle East, and we hope to make some diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions,” Kono said before sitting down for talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The top Japanese diplomat added that he wanted to “have a direct and frank conversation” with his Iranian counterpart on ways to reduce the tensions.
The Iranian foreign minister, for his part, said he looked forward to discussions with Kono as Tehran and Tokyo have special interests in the security of the energy market and stability in the Persian Gulf.
“It is necessary for us to engage. Also, Tehran and Japan share common views on nuclear non-proliferation and we need to have consultations about this to maintain nuclear non-proliferation,” he added.
Zarif highlighted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip in June to Tehran, saying the visit was “important” for “for bilateral relations as well as the full consultations between the two countries.”
Pointing to historical and friendly ties between Tehran and Tokyo, He added, “We are celebrating the 90th anniversary of our bilateral relations.”
Speaking at a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran in June, Abe said his country aims to play a role in easing tensions surrounding Iran, as he highlights peace and tranquility in the Middle East are very important for the entire world.
PM Abe in Iran: Japan aims to play role in easing tensionsJapan says it is ready to play a role in easing tensions surrounding Iran as PM Abe holds talks in Tehran.
“Japan seeks to play a maximum role to prevent tensions, and this has been the focus of my trip to Iran,” he added.
He made the trip to Tehran on a first visit by a Japanese premier to Iran in more than 40 years, with a plan to help ease tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States.
Tension between Iran and the United States has risen since US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany in 2015, and stepped up sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Zarif arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday at the head of a delegation on the second leg of his three-nation Asian tour. He visited China on Monday and would travel to Malaysia on Wednesday.
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His Asian tour comes fresh on the heels of a visit to the French city of Biarritz, where a meeting of the world’s seven top economic powers, known as G7, was held over the weekend.
China and Japan have been traditional buyers of Iranian oil.