June 11, 2019
Tokyo--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the situation in Iran and other issues in a 20-minute telephone conversation on Tuesday.
The two leaders are believed to have coordinated their countries' policies toward Iran ahead of Abe's visit to the Middle East nation. The Japanese government did not disclose details of the talks.
Trump may have voiced his hope for Abe to mediate between Washington and Tehran to help ease their tensions, according to informed sources. The president has shown his eagerness to hold a dialogue with Iranian leaders.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga officially announced that Abe will visit Iran for three days from Wednesday.
Abe will hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Wednesday afternoon local time and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the capital on Thursday morning, according to the top government spokesman.
"During the visit, the prime minister will call on leaders of the regional superpower to work on easing heightened tensions in the Middle East," Suga added.
Abe will be the first Japanese prime minister to meet with Khamenei, who has a strong influence over domestic politics across the board.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, it is rare for Khamenei to hold talks with leaders of Western countries. The meeting with Abe will be Khamenei's first with a Western leader since he met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in 2017.
The Abe-Khamenei will take place at the Iranian supreme leader's office in central Tehran.
Abe and Rouhani will hold a joint press conference after their meeting. Abe will attend a banquet to be hosted by Rouhani.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will on Wednesday move to Tehran after ending a trip to Sweden and hold talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Tuesday's phone talks between Abe and Trump were hastily arranged, according to Japanese government sources.
They shared the view that Trump's visit to Japan late last month as the first state guest since the start of the country's new era of Reiwa on May 1 was a success.
They also agreed to continue cooperating closely for the two-day summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in the western Japan city of Osaka from June 28.
After returning from Iran, Abe is expected to explain to the U.S. side the results of his meetings with Rouhani and Khamenei. Jiji Press
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