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Japan to offer $2.2 million to Iran for nuclear safety cooperation

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan has decided to offer Iran around €2.05 million ($2.2 million) for nuclear safety initiatives to help the Middle Eastern state implement its historic nuclear deal with the West.

“We agreed that bilateral relations are steadily making progress in a wide range of areas, including on cooperation for the steady implementation of the nuclear agreement,” Kishida told a joint news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday after talks with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Zarif said at the outset of the meeting, which was open to the media, that he welcomed Japan’s “constructive contribution” that “strongly pushes the implementation” of the nuclear agreement.

The move comes amid uncertainty over the agreement’s future following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

During the campaign, Trump said that if elected, his “number one priority” as president would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” which was spearheaded by President Barack Obama.

The nuclear deal Iran struck with six major powers in July last year limits Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions. The deal has been endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

Since the deal, Japan has been stepping up relations with the oil-rich country, lifting its sanctions on Iran in January and signing a bilateral investment pact the following month.

Tokyo is pushing Japanese companies to do business there amid intensifying foreign competition for access to the Iranian market.

The ministers’ meeting came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his readiness to visit Iran to boost economic ties during talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, according to a Japanese official.