The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a bid to ease tensions between Iran and the United States, secretly proposed the barter of Iranian crude oil for U.S. grain via Japan last year, according to government sources.

Two sources confirmed to Kyodo News that the proposal was formally made in June 2019 when Abe made a visit to Iran — the first by a Japanese prime minister in 41 years — in an attempt to serve as a mediator between Iran and the United States.

In his June 12 meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Abe officially proposed the barter deal, worth several billion dollars, and it was initially received positively by Tehran and Washington.