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A senior U.S. Treasury official has visited three major Japanese banking groups to make a direct request for their cooperation in U.S. financial sanctions on Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons development, banking industry sources said Thursday.

David Cohen, assistant secretary for terrorist financing, made the request Wednesday to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., they said.

Cohen asked them to terminate transactions with Iranian banks and industrial companies, they said.

But a source at one of the banking groups said private financial institutions can’t make a decision on the matter because the Finance Ministry has been cautious about cooperating with the U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. Iranian sanctions act requires foreign financial institutions to be expelled from U.S. financial markets if they do business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or individuals suspected of being involved in Iran’s nuclear development.

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