Azumi, Geithner talk Iran

Kyodo

Finance Minister Jun Azumi on Saturday expressed hope after talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that the two countries may soon agree on an exemption for Japanese banks from the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

“There is a good mood toward an agreement,” Azumi told reporters after the talks ahead of the two-day meeting of the Group of 20 financial chiefs in Mexico City.

Azumi and Geithner updated each other on progress in the negotiations and agreed to continue working-level talks to finalize the deal.

Japan is seeking to win the exemption on condition that Tokyo promises to cut its crude oil imports from Tehran by at least 11 percent amid surging oil prices after the conflict between the West and Iran over the latter’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Azumi and Geithner also shared the view that European countries need to do more in addressing the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone economies before discussing how to boost the lending capacity of the International Monetary Fund.

Prior to the talks with Geithner, Azumi also met with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to discuss the fund’s role in dealing with the eurozone crisis.