Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on an ambitious endeavor to play the role of international mediator in the hope of charting a course for dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

As the first Japanese prime minister to visit Iran since 1978, Abe received assurances from President Hassan Rouhani that the oil-rich nation does not want war with the United States — a welcome relief for resource-poor Japan.

Abe stressed that Japan is an old friend of Iran in an apparent effort to convince Tehran that he is not a mere messenger for U.S. President Donald Trump.