Japan to keep contact with US, Iran to lower tensions: Official

Japan is willing to make further efforts in favor of peace and stability in the region and the world through follow-up communications with Tehran and Washington, press secretary of Japan's Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Director General for Press and Public Diplomacy at Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Takeshi Osuga told reporters in Tehran that Tokyo is hopeful to see the efforts that are being made to lower the tensions in the region bear fruits.

Describing the meeting as 'timely and significant' taking place in a 'warm and friendly environment', he quoted the Japanese prime minister as saying that no one wants a military confrontation, expressing his concern over the rise of tensions.

He made the remarks after a visit of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.

The Japanese prime minister, heading a high-ranking delegation, including Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for a two-day visit to Iran. The meetings come amid high tensions between Tehran and Washington. They also met with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and the country's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Abe was also quoted as saying that Japan has consistently supported the nuclear agreement, and evaluates Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The prime minister said that Iran is expected to continue implementing the nuclear agreement, Osuga said at the press conference.

Referring to Iran as a 'regional power', Abe called on Iran to play a constructive role in restoring stability in the Middle East.

The Supreme Leader of Iran reaffirmed that Iran would never produce, posses or use nuclear weapons.

Speaking to Japanese reporters after the meeting with Iran's supreme leader, Abe quoted the US President Donald Trump as saying that Washington was not seeking escalation in the region, according to the press secretary assistant.

Quoting the prime minister, he added that the road for easing tensions will accompany lots of difficulties, but Tokyo will continue to make efforts on the path.

Commenting on the incidents in the Gulf of Oman through which two tankers went on fire, he said that Japan is collecting information on the incidents.

Media on Thursday reported that two oil tankers, one of which reportedly belonging to Japan, were ablaze at the same time with the Japanese officials visit to Tehran.

Prime Minister Abe told Japanese press following his meeting with the supreme leader that despite the mixed national sentiments on both sides, the top leaders of Iran and the US share the intention of easing the tensions, Osuga said.

Japan is not a signatory to the nuclear deal, "but we support it", he affirmed.

Speaking on neutrality of Tokyo in its diplomatic efforts between Iran and the US, the official told reporters that the neutrality is something that cannot be evaluated objectively, adding, "We feel that Japan is a traditional friend of Iran as well as a US ally."

"Economically, we are not a small power in the Far East, and we do have some political influence as well in the region," Osuga said.

Noting that Japan is not exercising shuttle diplomacy, he said that Tokyo is willing to make further efforts in favor of the stability in the region.

The assistant minister at Japan's Foreign Ministry added that Prime Minister Abe and other officials will make follow-up efforts when President Trump will travel to the country to take part in G20 Summit 2019 in late June.

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