• JIJI, Reuters


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering holding talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when he visits New York in September to attend a session of the U.N. General Assembly, government sources said Wednesday.

After meeting with Rouhani in Tehran on June 12, Abe told a joint news conference that he would hold another round of talks with the Iranian president at some point in the future.

Since returning to power in 2012, Abe has held discussions with Rouhani on the sidelines of General Assembly sessions every year.

The sources said the specific meeting schedule would be fixed after the July 21 House of Councilors election.

Abe still hopes to ease growing tensions between Iran and the United States by playing a mediator role.

The Middle Eastern nation has now surpassed the uranium stockpile and enrichment limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

But with Tehran now threatening to take further steps to breach the deal, from which the United States withdrew last year, and Trump stepping up sanctions on Iran, the resumption of talks among parties involved in the nuclear deal, including the United States, can hardly be expected despite efforts by France and other parties, people familiar with the situation said.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami said Japan is “deeply concerned” about the heightened tensions.

“We will continue diplomatic efforts, while cooperating with the United States and other countries involved,” he added.

During his three-day visit to Iran in June, Abe also met with the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but failed to broker a dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

Iran has no intentions of making or using nuclear weapons, Khamenei was quoted as saying by Abe.

“Supreme Leader Khamenei made a comment that the country will not and should not make, hold or use nuclear weapons, and that it has no such intentions,” Abe told reporters in Tehran following the meeting.

Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to hold talks with Khamenei.

After talks with Abe, Khamenei said on Twitter, “I don’t consider (U.S. President Donald) Trump as a person deserving to exchange messages with; I have no response for him & will not answer him.”

Trump said that he appreciated the visit by Abe to Iran to meet its leaders, but that he believed it is “too soon to even think about” the United States making a deal with Tehran.

“They are not ready, and neither are we!” Trump said in a tweet immediately after Abe and Khamenei met.

Abe’s visit to Tehran was overshadowed by attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. One of the tankers was owned by a Japanese firm.

The U.S. blamed Iran for the attacks, while Tehran denied any involvement.

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