Tokyo halts high-level talks with Iran

Japan will suspend high-level dialogue with Iran “for the time being” but has no immediate plan to recall its ambassador to Tehran, Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda said April 15.

Ikeda said the decision is in response to a German court ruling last week that top Iranian leaders were behind the 1992 murder of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. Iran has repeatedly denied any role in the killings, blaming them on infighting between opposition groups.

Ikeda made the remarks at a regular morning news conference after the day’s Cabinet meeting. Tokyo holds annual meetings of high-level officials with Tehran, and the next such talks were scheduled to take place in May. The foreign minister said Japan will not immediately follow moves by European Union members, except Greece, to recall their envoys to Iran for consultations, saying Tokyo will keep its normal dialogue channels open with Tehran.

Later in the day, Seiichiro Noboru, director general of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, explained Japan’s decision to Iranian Ambassador Manouchehr Mottaki at the Foreign Ministry. Noboru told Mottaki that the relationship between Japan and Iran is important and that Japan believes it is wrong to isolate Iran, Foreign Ministry officials said. Noboru said Japan is not considering cutting all channels for dialogue but that it will suspend high-level dialogue such as vice ministerial-level talks, the officials said.