Abe Eyeing Meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei

Politics

Tokyo, June 3 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may hold talks with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during his planned visit to the Middle East country later this month, government sources said Monday.

He would be the first Japanese prime minister to meet with Khamenei. Abe is already expected to hold a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the trip, which is seen taking place on June 12-14.

Amid escalating U.S.-Iran tensions, Abe aims to act as a mediator between the two countries, utilizing Tokyo's longstanding friendship with Tehran, according to the sources. Abe hopes to help achieve de-escalation of the tensions by meeting with Khamenei, who retains influence on Iran's overall politics, according to the sources.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is expected to accompany Abe on the trip and join his expected meetings with Rouhani and Khamenei, the sources said.

In Tokyo on May 16, Abe met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who hurriedly visited Japan. At the meeting, Abe expressed concerns over growing tensions in the Middle East and showed expectations that Iran will remain committed to the 2015 nuclear deal, which was signed by Tehran and six world powers including the United States.

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