• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday expressed willingness to visit Iran and boost economic ties with the country following the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran after a landmark nuclear deal it struck with six major powers in July last year.

In a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Abe said he would like to visit Iran at an appropriate time, and called for an improved business environment in the oil-rich country so more Japanese companies can invest there, according to a senior Japanese official.

The two governments would coordinate the timing of any visit, the official told reporters.

Japan lifted its sanctions on Iran in January and signed a bilateral investment pact in February in a bid to help Japanese companies do business there amid intensifying foreign competition for access to the Iranian market.

Abe meanwhile requested that Iran terminate military cooperation with North Korea, with an eye to cutting off revenue sources for Pyongyang in connection with its missile and nuclear weapons development programs.

Rouhani was quoted by the official as saying that the development of weapons of mass destruction would not lead to stability anywhere in the world.

In a separate meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Abe praised the president for maintaining the country’s democratic system after a failed military coup in July.

“As a friend, I’m pleased that you overcame the difficulty of the coup,” Abe was quoted as telling Erdogan by a senior Japanese official. “I would like to express respect for the unity and solidarity shown by the Turkish people.”

The two leaders affirmed coordination in response to the conflict in Syria and the activities of extremists from the Islamic State group who are operating in Iraq and Syria, according to the official.

Abe also told Erdogan that Japan will steadily promote a plan to construct a nuclear power plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop.

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