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4 February 2012 - 21:01

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba says Tokyo may be granted some waivers from US-led sanctions against Iran in exchange for reducing crude oil imports from the Islamic Republic.

"Steady progress was made in a good atmosphere" in respect to both Japan's cooperation with the US to address the Iranian nuclear issue and request a waiver from the sanctions, state-run Kyodo news agency quoted Gemba as telling reporters in the capital Tokyo on Friday.

He added, ''This time we mentioned a specific number'' regarding how much Japan is ready to reduce Iranian oil imports, although he refused to go into detail as negotiations are still ongoing with the United States.

Washington is putting pressure on its allies such as Japan to reduce its oil imports from Iran. Japan, the world's third biggest oil consumer, imports about 10 percent of its oil from the Islamic Republic.

On New Year's Eve, US President Barack Obama signed into law economic sanctions against Iran's Central Bank in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with the Iranian financial institution.

The bill requires foreign financial firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran's Central Bank and oil sector or with the US financial sector.

The legislation has not taken effect yet in a bid to provide oil markets with time to adjust.

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