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Japan continues to support Iran nuke deal, Abe tells Rouhani on heels of Trump speech

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on Tuesday that Japan continues to support a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the deal in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

According to a senior Japanese official, Abe told Rouhani it is important for all countries involved to comply with the deal, which was reached by Iran and six major powers, including the United States, in 2015 under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear development activities under the deal in exchange for the withdrawal of sanctions.

In their meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering, Rouhani told Abe that Iran wants to comply with the agreement and will not unilaterally scrap it, the Japanese official said.

In his debut speech before the body on Tuesday, Trump called the deal “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” saying Washington “cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.”

Rouhani “expressed concern” about Trump’s speech in the meeting with Abe, the Japanese official said without elaborating.

Abe also told Rouhani he hopes Iran will strive for the complete enforcement of the latest U.N. sanctions on North Korea, with which Iran maintains diplomatic relations.

The Security Council resolution adopted in response to the North’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 caps oil supply to the country and calls on U.N. members not to accept North Korean laborers.

According to the Japanese official, Abe told Rouhani that the resolution only has merit if it is fully implemented by all parties.

Rouhani replied that Iran is opposed to nuclear war, the development of nuclear weapons or the threat of their use, and has been communicating this to North Korea, the official said while refraining from making clear whether Rouhani mentioned the latest sanctions.

In the roughly 40-minute meeting, their first since last year’s General Assembly, Abe congratulated Rouhani on his re-election in May and welcomed the Iranian people’s support for Rouhani’s international cooperation policies.

In a separate meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on the U.N. sidelines on Tuesday, Abe said he wants to coordinate with Jordan in enforcing the sanctions on North Korea and dealing with the “unprecedented threat” the North poses to the international community.

The king completely agreed and voiced his appreciation of Japan’s stance on the issue, the Japanese official said.

Abe and Abdullah also affirmed their cooperation in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis, with Abe expressing his thanks for Jordan’s acceptance of more than 1.3 million refugees and pledging to think of further ways to assist. Japan has so far pledged assistance for reinforcing strained Jordanian infrastructure.

Later Tuesday, Foreign Minister Taro Kono asked his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates to work on implementing the latest Security Council restrictions on granting North Korean laborers permission to work, the Foreign Ministry said.

Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the UAE, acknowledged the request, the ministry said.

In July, The Associated Press quoted officials familiar with the matter saying that as many as 1,500 North Koreans may be working in the UAE. The latest sanctions take aim at the practice as a source of foreign currency for Pyongyang.