Iranian President Hassan Rouhani walks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a welcome ceremony in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday. Photo: Handout via REUTERS
politics

Abe meets Iranian president; warns of armed conflict amid soaring tension with U.S.

38 Comments
By Parisa Hafezi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned of unintended clashes in the crisis-hit Middle East after meeting the Iranian president in Tehran on Wednesday, amid a brewing confrontation between Iran and the United States.

As a U.S. ally that also has good diplomatic relations with Iran, Japan could be in a unique position to mediate between the Islamic Republic and the United States.

"Armed conflict needs to be prevented at all costs. Peace and stability in the Middle East is indispensable not only for this region but for global prosperity. No one is hoping for war," the Japanese leader said.

"We would like to play the maximum role we can for easing tension. That is what brought me to Iran," said Abe, whose two-day visit is the first by a Japanese leader to Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

While Abe did not mention Japan's currently suspended purchases of Iranian oil, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Japan wants to keep buying Iranian oil.

"In our meeting, Mr Abe said that Japan was interested in continuing buying Iran's oil," Rouhani told a joint news conference with Abe, broadcast live on state TV.

Earlier, two Iranian officials told Reuters that Tehran would ask Tokyo to mediate between it and Washington to ease oil sanctions on Iran.

"America should either lift the unjust oil sanctions or extend the waivers or suspend them," one senior official said.

To slash Iran's oil exports, Washington has revoked waivers since May that had allowed some countries, including Japan, to continue buying Iranian crude and has effectively ordered countries to stop purchasing Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

Despite pushing for imports to continue, Japan has stopped importing oil from Iran for now to avoid U.S. sanctions.

On a visit to Japan last month, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Abe's help in dealing with Iran, highlighting what he called the "very good relationship" between Tokyo and Tehran.

Strains between Washington and Tehran have sharply increased in recent weeks, a year after the United States abandoned a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

"Iran will remain committed to the deal, which is important for the security of the region and the world. Tehran and Tokyo both oppose nuclear weapons," said Rouhani.

Washington, calling the nuclear deal flawed and seeking to push Iran into new negotiations, intensified sanctions from the start of May, ordering all countries and firms to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.

It has also dispatched extra armed forces to the region to counter what it describes as Iranian threats.

Iran has warned against any military aggression.

"Iran will never initiate a war but will give a crushing response to any aggression," Rouhani said.

"The source of tensions is America's staged economic war against Iran. As soon as this war ends, we shall see a very positive development in the region and in the world."

Abe has talked to U.S. regional allies like Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who have supported Trump's Iran policy.

Iran said in May that after 60 days it would resume its enrichment of uranium beyond the low fissile purity - suitable for civilian nuclear power generation - allowed under the deal, unless other powers stuck to their commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

European parties the deal have promised to help Iran find other ways to trade, although with no success so far.

Japan wants to do as much as possible towards peace and stability in the Middle East," Abe said in Tokyo ahead of his departure, according to Iranian TV.

But just hours before Abe's visit to Iran, Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels carried out a missile attack on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia which wounded 26 people.

The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim alliance that has been battling the Houthis in Yemen said the attack was proof of Tehran's support for what it called cross-border terrorism.

On Thursday, Abe will also meet the Islamic Republic's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

38 Comments
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Abe meets Iranian president; warns of armed conflict amid soaring tension with U.S.

And the media is playing IT'S part in ensuring that the flames get fuel as well! The wording in far too many articles like these today assist in making things worse!

Show some responsibility!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Excellent photo. PM Abe looks very serious and determined to mediate this crisis. Both Iran and US are great friends of Japan, and PM Abe wants to keep it that way.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Iran is 10,000 kms away from the United States. Iranian warships are not steaming up the Hudson-how on earth can tensions be soaring at such a great geographical distance?

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Another waste of tax payers hard earned cash. Is there some sort of travel quota that has to be met? Must be election season

8 ( +14 / -6 )

Another waste of tax payers hard earned cash. Is there some sort of travel quota that has to be met? Must be election season

Diplomacy is never a waste of money. If there is even a slim chance that Abe acting as mediator can help to prevent military or economic conflict, then the trip is worth it.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

I'm not so sure Japan/Abe are in a place to lecture others.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Trump is an unabashed Saudi sympathizer and Zionist. Belligerence towards Iran is payback for their support.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Talk is cheaper than war.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Trump is an unabashed Saudi sympathizer and Zionist. Belligerence towards Iran is payback for their support.

Yes, and Rex Tillerson was sacked by Trump for preventing Saudi and UAE from invading Qatar.

https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae/

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The only reason why Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear treaty which was ratified by not only the U.S. and the EU was because it was brokered by Obama. Even U.S. security experts have been saying that it was working. Trump's infantile ego is at play here and is causing this "crisis." Iran's preconditions for talks will probably be to demand that the Lincoln be pulled out of the Persian Gulf. Then what is Abe going to do?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

The only reason why Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear treaty which was ratified by not only the U.S. and the EU was because it was brokered by Obama

It may be one of the reason, but it's not the only reason.

Cooperate, peace, truce with Iran is global corporate agenda, every one has something to sell to Iran. But it's not a people's agenda. Trump wants a second term, he can't expect to have stability and prosperity if the Saudis aren't playing ball. The Saudis were very unhappy with Obama's deal, and they started to show it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well done Pm Abe Well done. No matter what happens, Japan's world image has been enhanced. Japan will be seen in a good light by people in both the Islamic world and Western world. In comparison, both China and US are seen as enemies by the people in Islamic world. Japan will now be able to leverage its enhanced position to reap both economic and political gains.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Looking at the headline of this article, makes me wonder what the context of the Abe's long phone call with Trump prior to this Iranian trip was, maybe Trump was dictating the rhetoric for Abe to use, that's what I read from the headline. When are world leaders going to stand up to Trumps type of America and say enough. Countries could start by ignoring all the sanctions imposed by Trump, has anybody looked at a world map recently, and looked at the populations of those countries outside of America. The US keeps telling the world , you need the US, b##l s##t, only because of the use of the US dollar in the banking system for worldwide trade. Time to align the world with an alternative to that system and include maybe the Euro and the Chinese Renminbi. Maybe America wouldn't be so quick to threaten military action or install sanctions if you threatened the US economy. Japan had a good relationship wth Iran, and Japan like any other sovereign nation should be able to trade with whoever it wishes to bolster it's economy.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' in stealing Iraqi people's oil and sovereignty by telling the world 'WMD ' news when it was fallacy to steal oil in the first place. The same scare propaganda will be used to steal Irans oil.. Some bogeyman scare tactics to create hate in the world all for the sake of theft of other people's oil and to keep Opecs dominance in the oil markets..

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Why doesn't trump see him? He saw Kim Jong who threw missiles over our country and has evident nukes..

YET he hasn't stepped foot in Iran? Would of been interesting

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Iran is 10,000 kms away from the United States. Iranian warships are not steaming up the Hudson-how on earth can tensions be soaring at such a great geographical distance?

Israel feels threatened by Iran.

America is Israel's bodyguard in the ME.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Don't the Iranians feel just a little uncomfortable treating with respect someone who totally treated Trump with respect just a couple of weeks ago?

I hope Abe can make some progress.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Israel has at least 200 atomic warheads.

Abe warns Trump about conflict.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The supreme Ayatollah of Iran Khameinei will tell Abe : 'Son let me tell you how the wicked attempts of US-Israel alliance is gonna to do to our country since the 1953 coup........blah blah.....blah blah blah(Duration:30minutes)!  Now you should grow up your spine to that Donald Trump! You must remember who bombed Tokyo,Hiroshima,Nagasaki! The victims who perished under the same source of evil!'

4 ( +6 / -2 )

We hope & wishes, PM Abe could do needful to bring peace in this Middle-east and world too.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm sure that the man needed to be warned by Abe, like he didn't know there was a threat.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Amazing how this topic is so popular now in the Japanese media but in the rest of the world no one talk about it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Armed conflict needs to be prevented at all costs. Peace and stability in the Middle East is indispensable not only for this region but for global prosperity. No one is hoping for war," the Japanese leader said.

Abe is trying to be a mediator. As the leader of a country with political and economic ties to both Iran and the US, he should be ideally placed to do it.

That means when he makes comments like the ones above, they're not directed at Iran per se. They're also a reminder to Trump and the whole US apparatus that brought us to this impasse of the potential consequences of their actions. I just hope Abe's right when he says "no-one is hoping for war" because it doesn't always look that way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Amazing how this topic is so popular now in the Japanese media but in the rest of the world no one talk about it."

Really?

From the BBC

Japan's Shinzo Abe in Tehran for talks amid US-Iran tensions

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48578314

From Fox News:

Japanese prime minister and Trump ally Shinzo Abe visits Tehran to help ease US-Iran tensions

https://www.foxnews.com/world/shinzo-abe-japan-trump-tehran-us-iran-tensions

From the New York Times:

Shinzo Abe’s Latest Diplomatic Long Shot: Peacemaking in Iran

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/world/asia/japan-abe-iran.html

From the Financial Times:

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe makes diplomatic push in Iran

https://www.ft.com/content/9270a816-8c71-11e9-a24d-b42f641eca37

Get the point?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Why doesn't trump see him? He saw Kim Jong "

I concur. Trump should see Hassan Rouhani and Xi should meet Tsai ing-wen and the Dalai lama . Trump and Abe should also sit down with Tsai Ing-wen.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan is playing the role of ALT/English teacher. They both come from foreign countries dressed in suits, aiming for 'international cooperation', but in reality aren't needed and have no real impact.

Everyone is scared of the US and no one besides China, Russia, and North Korea can stand up to them.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Is Japan and other US allies going to support the US starting a nuclear war? Are the people of these nations going to allow their government to support the US in a nuclear war? They have supported the US in all its misadventures in the last 70 years. When will the globe recognise that the US is a corrupt global dictatorship. Its easier to accept dictatorship that resist, easier to be subservient that bush back and also more face-saving.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"Why doesn't trump see him? He saw Kim Jong "

Trump's zionist masters would never permit it...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Why doesn't trump see him? He saw Kim Jong "

I'd bet that if President Trump did met the leader of Iran, many here would twist the meeting into somehow being a bad thing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It is a good "test run" for Abe and for Japan.

It is also a boon to the US and Trump. (Regardless of being motivated by Trump, this is action, face to face, much needed by all leaders of the world.) This helps to put the current situation into the proper perspective within the world community. It is not just a USA and Iran dispute but an internationally vital relationship which has the same economic impact as do the tariffs by Trump. (It is energy and oil is one of them, that fuels the world industries and economies.)

As stated above as "test run", this trip to Iran also "prepares" Abe for his possible meeting with N Korea's Kim. It will relate to Kim as well. Abe can as Moon tried, be the "mediator" with both Japan's interest and US interests and possibly the world's interests in mind when he meets Kim. Kim can now "see" Abe as a 3rd and "moderate" route to Trump as well.

Mediation is NOT to get immediate results but to open a direct dialog. Now, as many may want or wish, Trump may even meet with Khomeini and Iran's President. for a face to face dialog. That is a definite possibility. (Obviously that cannot happen in Iran or in the Middle East as the threat for assassination by suicide is too great.) Could that be in Japan?

Sincerely hope that Abe's efforts are meaningful and result in some positive action by Iran and the US.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Pri me-minister abe should solve the problems in his own country, instead of wasting money on behalf of America, this is taking personal friendship with trump too far.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

kazetsukaiToday 03:50 pm JST

Smart comment. Puzzling how you could have got a down vote for it, but I think ToshiYori's comment above yours goes some way towards explaining why.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In late news, two tankers with Japanese related cargoes have been attacked near the Hormuz Strait, and the U.S. says it has rushed to their rescue. But I have to wonder who would see themselves as gaining from these attacks. Not Iran, although they will be blamed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Two Japanese ships attacked while Abe is actually in Iran means it's unlikely to be the Iranians or Iranian sponsored terrorism. The crew of both ships have been rescued by the Iranians.

Trump is holding the cards for what is happening.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Foreign diplomacy for an island leader starts closer to home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Abe will also meet the Islamic Republic's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

I've always seen the Supreme leader like a 18th century monarch head of state. More interventionist than Queens Elizabeth and Victoria, but perhaps not (king) George or Anne. The president is like the head of govt (strong prime minister - in relation to the parliament, not the supreme leader). Maybe the next supreme leaders role will be merely to advise, warn, and be given weekly updates.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Washington, calling the nuclear deal flawed and seeking to push Iran into new negotiations, intensified sanctions from the start of May, ordering all countries and firms to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.

Authority is still desired whether a communist or democratic country. Some leaders like the do as I say approach. Trump would love to have the power a medieval king possessed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The members of the honor guard all look like Batman and Robin.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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