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Speaker: Japanese PM’s Visit to Tehran Due to Iran’s Rational Approach

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Iran has proved to be a logical actor in the region, adding that his nation's rational approach should be seen as the reason why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now in Tehran.

“We always hold talks on international and regional issues with our friends and the countries that are interested,” Larijani told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday.

He referred to Japan’s consultations and economic ties in the past years, the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Tehran and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s upcoming talks with different world leaders on the sidelines of the Shanghai conference, and said, “This shows that Iran’s problem-solution approach is based on talks, but if different sides act correctly and show prudence, settlement of issues will be easier. Unfortunately, the Americans are creating problems, and Abe’s presence in Iran is, hence, the product of Iran’s rational approach and talks-based problem settlement approach.”

Abe, a friend of President Donald Trump, whose country also has good ties with Iran, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday on a three-day visit in a high-stakes attempt to act as a mediator between the Islamic Republic and the United States after Washington abrogated the nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions on the nation.

Abe’s symbolic visit comes more than one year after Washington’s abrupt withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that led to the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran. Japan is not a member of the deal but has been a supporter.

Before making the trip official, Japan carefully laid the groundwork. Abe secured backing from Trump, who was on a state visit to Japan in late May, for his efforts to reach out to Iran. Abe also spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) and Mohammad bin Zayed (MbZ). Abe and Trump also had a phone conversation on Tuesday about the Japaneses prime minister’s trip to Tehran.

The US president’s anti-Tehran top aide, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has recently claimed that Washington is ready to engage in talks with the Islamic Republic without preconditions, and his boss has reinstated harsh economic sanctions against Iran to force Tehran back to the table – a desire that has not yet come to reality. Washington has also escalated America’s military presence in the Persian Gulf – recently sending an aircraft carrier group, a squadron of B-52 bombers and additional Patriot air defense systems as a “message” to Iran. Trump claimed that the United States is not seeking armed conflict with Tehran, calling for negotiation with Iran to reach a new deal. The US president also introduced sanctions on third countries that would do business with the Islamic Republic. Dependent on Iranian oil, Japan is one such country.

In May, Iran announced it was suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal, setting a 60-day deadline for the five remaining parties to the deal — France, Germany, the UK, China and Russia — to take practical measures towards ensuring Tehran’s interests in the face of the American sanctions.

The Japanese Prime Minister will meet President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on Thursday. His trip is the first visit to Iran by an incumbent Japanese premier in 41 years, as Tokyo and Tehran have friendly ties and will mark the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will also hold talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif hours before the Abe-Rouhani summit.

As regards the mediation objective of Abe’s Tehran visit, Spokesman of Iran’s top security body – the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) – Keivan Khosravi said last Thursday that Abe’s efforts to get the US back to the nuclear agreement and remove Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions are the two principles that can guarantee the success of his upcoming visit to Tehran.

“Iran-Japan relations have always enjoyed a balanced and stable level and progress in political and economic spheres,” Khosravi wrote in a memo to FNA.

“Japan’s approach in area of foreign policy has mainly been based on support for the legal and political norms approved by the international community,” he underlined, adding that Tokyo “has been in most cases immune to the tides and ebbs of extremism and inactivity in its foreign policy”.

“Preserving and enhancing the political and economic position of Japan in the international system, which is an asset of this country interwoven with the identity of its people, are among the principles that the Japanese fiercely adhere and follow up,” he noted.

“The upcoming visit of Shinzo Abe to Tehran is assuredly a significant event in the course of bolstering and expanding bilateral relations between the two countries in different areas,” the senior Iranian security official highlighted.

 “Assuredly the highest executive official of this country will seize the opportunity to boost the political credibility of Japan,” Khosravi underscored.

“It is said that Shinzo Abe is visiting Iran as a mediator authorized by the US,” he highlighted, and stressed, “Efforts to return the US to the JCPOA and make up for the damages inflicted on Iran and removing Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions against our country, which are both from the accepted and reiterated principles of the international community, can act as a guarantee for this visit’s success.”

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