National / Politics

Top diplomats from Iran and Japan to meet Tuesday amid Gulf tensions

Kyodo

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif plans to travel to Japan to meet with his counterpart Taro Kono on Tuesday amid heightened tensions in and around the Persian Gulf, Japanese government sources said Monday.

Zarif and Kono will hold their first talks since the United States last month called on allies including Japan to join a military coalition to safeguard commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats.

Tensions between Iran and the United States remain heightened after a string of attacks on oil tankers near the sea lane that Washington has blamed on Tehran.

While countries including Britain and Australia have announced their participation in the initiative, called the Maritime Security Initiative or Operation Sentinel, Japan has remained hesitant out of concern that doing so would hurt its friendly relations with Iran.

The meeting will take place in Yokohama, where Kono will be attending a ministerial meeting in preparation for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Zarif is also slated to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, the sources said.

Japan has sought to broker dialogue between Iran and the United States, with Abe traveling to the Middle Eastern country in June, the first trip there by a sitting prime minister in over four decades.

Zarif, who last visited Japan in May, over the weekend made a surprise appearance at the French resort town of Biarritz where a Group of Seven summit was being held.

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