Japan PM Abe considering visit to Iran as early as mid-June: NHK

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FILE PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, shake hands at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo Thursday, May 16, 2019. Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Iran as early as mid-June, NHK national television said on Friday, as international concern grows about rising tension between Iran and the United States.

The news comes a week after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Japan and met Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

Abe is likely to discuss his possible Iran visit with U.S. President Donald Trump when the president visits Japan from Saturday and a final decision may rest on the results of that, NHK said.

No Japanese prime minister has visited Iran since 1978.

During his visit to Japan, Zarif said that Iran was committed to its obligations under an international nuclear deal despite the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark agreement. He called the reimposition of U.S. sanctions “unacceptable”.

Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement last year and is ratcheting up sanctions on Iran, aiming to strangle its economy by ending its international sales of crude oil. Japan was a major buyer of Iranian oil for decades before the sanctions.

The Trump administration is also warning of possible Iranian plots against the United States and its allies.

Iran denies the accusations.

Reporting by Linda Sieg and Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel

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