Abe Eyes Visit in August

Abe Eyes Visit in AugustAbe Eyes Visit in August

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to visit Iran in August to hold talks with President Hassan Rouhani, a Japanese government source said.

Abe envisions the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to Iran since Takeo Fukuda went there in 1978 as part of a drive to boost economic cooperation with the oil- and gas-rich country, the Japan Today newspaper on Wednesday reported the source as saying.

He is also eying exchanging views with Rouhani over the self-styled Islamic State militants and civil war in Syria, the source said.

Abe hopes to travel to Iran shortly before or after attending the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD VI, to be held in late August in Kenya, according to the source.

The Japanese government is studying the feasibility of Abe also visiting Saudi Arabia, another major oil producer, the source added.

Abe told Rouhani of his interest in visiting Iran when they met in New York in September on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly.

Japan and Iran signed a bilateral investment pact in February aimed at helping Japanese firms do business in the resource-rich country amid intensifying foreign competition for its market access.

The signing came after Tokyo lifted sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program in January following confirmation by the UN nuclear watchdog that Tehran had implemented measures promised under a landmark deal it struck with six major powers last July.