Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday. Photo: Ministry of Presidential Affairs via AP

Japan pursues regional diplomacy to defuse Gulf tensions

By Dahlia Nehme

Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should work together to de-escalate the tense situation in the Gulf, a Japanese foreign ministry official said on Monday, relaying comments by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The official said Japan's strong relationship with both the United States and Iran enabled it to play a diplomatic role in defusing heightened regional tensions following the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani and a retaliatory missile attack by Iran on U.S. forces in Iraq.

As part of a Middle Eastern tour, Abe met UAE leaders in Abu Dhabi on Monday after having been to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. He will head to Oman on Tuesday, whose ruler, Sultan Qaboos, died on Friday.

Abe will "compare notes with the leaders of the three countries who we believe are like-minded in the sense that they are all worried about the extremely high tension in the region and the need for...de-escalation," the official said.

He added that Abe has met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani three times last year and maintains "very good contact" with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan thanked Abe for Japan's "balanced policy" towards the Middle East, in a statement on UAE state media after their meeting.

Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE was willing to work with Japan and Saudi for regional stability.

In turn, Abe said he appreciated the "discrete position" the UAE has been demonstrating in the current situation.

In May and June 2019, several attacks took place on international merchant vessels in the Gulf, including the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous, which the United States blamed on Iran. Tehran denies the allegations.

The UAE did not lay blame on any country for those attacks or other attacks on Saudi Arabian energy infrastructure.

Japan's cabinet last month approved the deployment of a warship and patrol planes to the region and on Friday ordered them to head to the Middle East to protect ships bringing goods to Japan.

They are for self-defense and have a mandate of "information collection", the official said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Abe...diplomacy....in the same sentence? Tuesday AM comedy hour!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Japan should stay out of it. Abe is just looking for excuses to deploy more SDF members.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Whys this ***hat wasting tax payers hard earned cash? Is this part of the arrows as well?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The past 3 comments I guess you didn't hear what happened with Iran, tensions rising, missiles have been fired, people died, plane crashed.

That don't matter... Trolling Japan is what matters.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Agree with Yubaru Chip and Fred

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Glad to see someone is trying to defuse matters. The idiot in the White House certainly isn't. Seems to me like he is just trying to take attention away from his Ukraine scandal by committing murder and bringing the world closer to war.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Iran is ruling the roost, they control the flow,

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan doesn't exercise any "regional diplomacy", even here in NE Asia...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan IMO isn’t doing anything to diffuse anything but situation at home after Ghosn’s escape and the latest corruption scandal.

Dear leader actually cancelled his tour when the situation was tense and resumed after tensions deescalated. However the local media as usual is portraying Abe like a champion diplomat averting Third World War.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan is closer than the US. Maybe the US should stay out of it. That may help.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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