Japan’s Prime Minister to visit Tehran, as US, French leaders deny split on Iran

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to visit Iran, a Japanese government spokesman said on Thursday. Abe’s trip will take place on June 12-14.

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to visit Iran, a Japanese government spokesman said on Thursday. Abe’s trip will take place on June 12-14.

It is expected that the Japanese Prime Minister will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The announcement of Abe’s trip follows a week after US President Donald Trump visited Japan and openly expressed his willingness to talk with the Iranians.

According to The Japan Times, during his meeting with the US President, Abe “secured” Trump’s support for “his efforts to reach out to Iran.”

READ MORE: Trump signals Iran, amid possible Japanese mediation

The Japanese announcement came as Trump—in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the allied crossing of the English channel and their landing on the Normandy coast, which led to Germany’s defeat in World War II—met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

On this solemn occasion—the Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history and over 4,000 allied soldiers died in the first 24 hours of the military operation—the two leaders struck a conciliatory tone.

Asked about differences between the US and France over Iran, Trump replied, “I don’t think we have differences over Iran,” adding, “I don’t think that [President Macron] wants to see nuclear weapons, and neither do I. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Macron responded similarly, “I think we do share the same objective on Iran,” as he proceeded to ask “What do we want to do?”

“First, you want to be sure they don’t get nuclear weapons,” Macron explained. “We had an instrument until 2025,” he continued, defending the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA.)

But the French president also acknowledged the Trump administration’s criticism of the JCPOA, as he added, “We want to go further and have full certainty in the long run.”

“Second, we want to reduce ballistic [missile] activity, and third, we want to contain the regional activity,” Macron stated, in effect, outlining three objectives in dealing with Tehran, before adding a fourth: “peace in the region.”

“We need to open a new negotiation in order to build and get these four objectives,” he concluded.

Japan has managed to maintain relations with both the US and Iran. In mid-May, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif visited Tokyo and met with Abe.

Japan’s Foreign Minister, Taro Kano, will travel to Tehran ahead of Abe to prepare for his visit.

Abe’s trip to Iran will mark the first visit there of a sitting Japanese Prime Minister since the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the second and last ruler of the short-lived Pahlavi dynasty.

Abe’s father, Shintaro Abe, as Japan’s Foreign Minister, visited Tehran in 1983, in an attempt to negotiate an end to the Iran-Iraq war. He was not successful, however, and that conflict continued for another five years.

France supports Abe’s trip to Iran, according to the Financial Times, seeing it “as a way to promote international talks in search of the ‘better deal’ on Iran’s nuclear program that Mr. Trump says he wants, while easing the US president’s ‘maximum pressure’ on the Iranians applied through sanctions.”

Editing by Nadia Riva