PM Abe calls Iran significant country, voices Japan’s readiness to help ease tensions

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says 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.

Abe said that stability and peace in the Middle East region would benefit not only the regional countries but the entire world, adding that efforts should be made to avoid any military confrontation in the region.

“Japan seeks to play a maximum role to prevent tensions, and this has been the focus of my trip to Iran,” he added.    

The Japanese prime minister said that Iran has been an important country in the Middle East, stressing that it’s necessary for the Islamic Republic to continue playing its constructive role in order for the region to remain stable and avoid any possible confrontation.   

Abe, who is in Tehran on an official two-day visit, made the remarks at a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Japanese premier hailed a fatwa (religious decree) by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei prohibiting nuclear weapons.

He also welcomed Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as positive and expressed hope that Tehran would continue to act within the framework of the the 2015 nuclear deal in the future.   

He said that he discussed with the Iranian president ways to alleviate tensions, prevent further instability in the region and pave the way for the establishment of peace, noting that the two sides shared views in this regard.    

For his part, Rouhani praised the age-old relations between Iran and Japan and welcomed the Japanese government’s determination to expand relations with Iran in different fields.

He said that during the meetings with the Japanese side different issues were discussed, including Japan’s investment in southern Iran, including in Chabahar Port and Makran region.

Rouhani said that Japan was interested in buying Iran’s oil, adding that this is a point that can guarantee the expansion of relations between the two states.

The Iranian president said that in addition to bilateral issues, the two sides discussed ways to promote security and defuse tensions in the region.

“We are pleased that the two countries attach high significance to the stability and security of the region,” Rouhani said, noting that he told the top Japanese official that “Iran will never initiate a war in the region even with the US but if a possible war is waged” against the Islamic Republic, it we will give “a crushing response to invaders.”

Rouhani also praised Japan’s continued support for the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying the agreement is important for regional and global security.

He also said that Iran was willing to remain in the JCPOA, adding that the country welcomed cooperation with Japan in peaceful nuclear technology and stressing that both countries opposed nuclear weapons.

He stated that the “root cause of tensions [in the region] is the US economic war against Iran,” adding, “Whenever this war stops, we will witness a very positive change in the region and the world.”

Rouhani also described Japan as a very important country that has always taken “good steps for the promotion of security and stability of the region.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) meets with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Tehran on June 12, 2019. (Photo by IRNA)

During the meeting, Zarif pointed to the US policy of economic terrorism against Iran, saying the Islamic Republic was also facing “a propaganda campaign and hate-mongering” by Washington every day.

Zarif said that to foil the US measures Iran has been working out necessary plans to ensure the well-being of the nation, adding that among the plans was a revision of the country’s budget to wean the country off oil revenue.   

He also pointed to long-standing relations between Tehran and Tokyo and called Japan a good friend and partner of Iran in political, economic and cultural areas.

The Japanese official, for his part, described Shinzo Abe’s visit to Iran as historic.

“Iran is an important country in the region and we believe the fewer tensions in this strategic region, the better for everyone. Otherwise everyone will get hurt,” Kono said, adding,” Japan is ready to do anything to ease tensions.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a welcoming ceremony at the Sa’dabad Palace in the capital Tehran on June 12, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said that during the talks Kono also asked Iran to remain committed to the JCPOA that put limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting nuclear-related sanctions, according to Kyodo news agency.  

Japan is not a member of the deal but has been a supporter.

Abe arrived in Iran on Wednesday on a first visit by a Japanese premier to Tehran in more than 40 years, with a plan to help ease tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States.

Tensions between Iran and the US have spiked since May 2018, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Speaking to reporters before boarding his plane for Tehran, Abe said, “Amid concerns over growing tension in the Middle East and with the attention of the international community on the issue, Japan wishes to do its best toward peace and stability in the region.”

“Based on traditional friendly ties between Japan and Iran, I would like to have candid exchanges of opinions” with the Iranian president and Ayatollah Khamenei “toward easing tensions,” Abe added.

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