Japan-Iran summit being finalized for Dec. 20 as Abe looks to play mediator: Japan Times

Tehran, Dec 12, IRNA - Japan and Iran are making final arrangements for their leaders to hold talks on Dec. 20, a source close to bilateral relations said Wednesday, according to "Japan Times". 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is planning to arrive in Japan on the evening of Dec. 19 for a three-day visit after stopping in Malaysia, where he is expected to attend a conference, the source said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his government wants to help ease tensions in the Middle East, according to the paper, adding that during a news conference in Tokyo on Monday he confirmed that Rouhani’s visit was being arranged but did not give a date.

Tehran is seen as seeking to break the impasse over a 2015 nuclear deal, as the reinstatement of US sanctions following Washington’s withdrawal from the accord has hurt Iran’s economy.

Japan Times says Abe is likely to urge Rouhani to keep to Iran's nuclear commitments that have been reduced recently in a bid to force the European parties to live up to their commitments as well. 

For resource-poor Japan, it is vital to secure the safe navigation of ships in waters in the Middle East, including near the Strait of Hormuz, the paper said.

Japan has long maintained friendly ties with Iran. Abe visited Iran in June as the first Japanese leader to do so in about four decades.

If Rouhani’s visit is realized, the "Japan Times" wrote, it would be the second visit to Japan by an Iranian president since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.

Iran used to be a major crude exporter to Japan before the United States threatened sanctions against nations who purchased oil from the Middle East country.

In early December, Iran sounded out Japan about the possibility of Rouhani’s visit when his special envoy, Abbas Araghchi, the country’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, traveled to Tokyo and met with Abe.

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