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Japan’s FM calls on Iran to abide by nuclear deal

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said he had called on Iran to abide by the 2015 nuclear deal during a meeting on Tuesday with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Kono told reporters after the meeting that he and Zarif agreed to keep close contact between Japan and Iran, which have historically had friendly relations, to ease tensions between the United States and Iran.

“Based on Japan’s stance in support of the nuclear agreement, I have asked the Iranian side to abide by the agreement and return immediately to its obligations under it and to avoid taking actions that would violate it,” Kono said.

US President Donald Trump withdrew his country last year from the Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. In response, Iran has gradually scaled back its obligations under the deal, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting many international sanctions.

The crisis over the nuclear deal has caused a sharp escalation of tension between the old foes.

At the start of the meeting, the two ministers smiled and shook hands. Zarif said the two countries had special interests in energy security and stability in the Gulf.

Kono declined to say whether he had discussed with Zarif the US-led mission to bolster Gulf security or the purchase of Iranian crude.

Washington has called on its allies to join an operation to protect ships in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital corridor for the global oil industry. So far Britain, Australia and Bahrain have joined the US-led security mission.

French President Emmanuel Macron opened a path towards a diplomatic solution to the US-Iran standoff at the Group of Seven summit at the weekend by saying his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani had told him he was ready to discuss the idea of ​​a meeting with Trump.

Trump told a news conference it was realistic to envisage a meeting with the Iranian prime minister in the coming weeks. The two leaders are scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly next month.

But Rouhani said on Tuesday Iran would not enter talks with the United States until all sanctions were lifted.

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