Abe Considering Iran Visit in July

Abe Considering Iran Visit in JulyAbe Considering Iran Visit in July

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Iran in July for talks with President Hassan Rouhani, Japanese government sources said Thursday.

If realized, it will be the first trip to Iran by a sitting Japanese prime minister since Takeo Fukuda visited the country in 1978, Kyodo News reported.

The envisaged visit would be part of Abe’s trip to Europe and the Middle East slated for mid-July.

If he meets with Rouhani, Abe is expected to convey Japan’s continued support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal even after US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in May.

Abe reiterated Japan’s support for the deal in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a trip to the occupied Palestinian lands in May.

Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of the deal known s the JCPOA, called it a “bad agreement”, but Abe said the accord was necessary to ensure stability in the Middle East.

Under the 2015 deal, which was struck between Iran and world powers–the US, the UK, France, Russia and Germany–Tehran agreed to put limits on certain parts of its nuclear energy program in exchange for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions.

  Economic Ties

Strengthening economic ties with Iran, which sits on major oil and gas resources, is also high on the agenda of the Japanese leader’s visit.

Iran is Japan’s third-largest energy supplier after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The annual trade volume between the two countries stands at more than $11 billion.

The US has asked Japan to completely halt oil imports from Iran, going beyond the reductions that were demanded when sanctions were imposed earlier this decade, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Abe is planning to travel to the Middle East after visiting Belgium and France. In Brussels, the prime minister plans to sign a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union.

Aside from Iran, Abe is considering visiting Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well, according to the sources.

Abe will finalize the itinerary soon, they said.


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