Abe urges Rouhani to be flexible over arms

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to resolve Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program with flexibility and by building on a recent shift toward dialogue, a Japanese official said.

Abe told Rouhani on Thursday that “showing flexibility should be a key” to settling the matter of Iran’s nuclear development and that Tokyo is ready to assist. He also welcomed Rouhani’s recently stated intention to increase dialogue with the international community and advised him not to pass up the current chance for progress on the issue.

“The window of opportunity will not remain open forever,” Abe was quoted as telling Rouhani, who only took office in August, during their talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Rouhani replied that he hopes to resolve the nuclear issue early, according to the official. Rouhani has said Iran’s nuclear program is for civil use only and that his country will never seek to develop nuclear weapons.

It was only the third time that the leaders of Japan and Iran have held such a summit since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The two previous occasions were in 2000 and 2008.

Abe and Rouhani further agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation on environmental issues and on preventing the global drugs trade, the official added.

On Syria, Rouhani promised to work with Western countries in addressing Damascus’ use of chemical weapons against civilians. Abe said Japan will support actions aimed at ensuring Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime will dispose of its chemical weapons stockpile, according to the official.

Abe also told Rouhani that Japan will cooperate with Iran and other countries in providing humanitarian aid for those affected by Syria’s 2½-year civil war.

Meanwhile, Rouhani thanked Abe for a letter personally delivered by the prime minister’s special envoy, Masahiko Komura, vice president of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, during a visit a visit Iran on Sept. 8.