Abe’s Iran Not Meant to Mediate Row with U.S., Japan Says

Japan’s government spokesman says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s high-stakes trip to Iran is intended to help de-escalate tensions in the Mideast, and not specifically mediate between Tehran and Washington, Fox News informed.

The remarks by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to reporters were apparently meant to downplay and lower expectations amid uncertain prospects for Abe’s mission.

Abe met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday, the second and final day of his visit.

The two leaders meeting came amid rising military tensions in the Persian Gulf , with Khamenei denying any intention to “develop, own or use any nuclear weapons,” according to the prime minister, The Japan Times writes.

Abe was staying in the Iranian capital as the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit the country in 41 years.

“I heard him explaining his conviction that peace must be achieved. I understand that is a major step forward for the peace and stability of the region,” Abe said.

During the meeting with Khamenei, Abe quoted President Donald Trump as saying he doesn’t want to see “escalation” of the situation. Abe then explained his views on Trump’s intention, the prime minister told reporters.

However, after the meeting with Abe, Khamenei released a statement saying he “won’t reply to Trump,” saying he is “not a party worth exchanging a message with.”

According to Khamenei, Abe told him that the U.S. is ready to talk with Iran sincerely. But the Iranian supreme leader said he “cannot trust remarks by the U.S” in the statement.

Iran has been locked in a bitter standoff with the United States since Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May last year.

Washington has since reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions, which have forced Tokyo to halt its once-substantial purchases of Iranian oil, and launched a military buildup in the region.

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