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Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is planning to visit Iran to build ties with its new government led by a conservative hard-liner, diplomatic sources said Friday.

Motegi is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, possibly in mid-August, as Japan aims to strengthen its traditionally friendly ties with Iran and discuss issues related to Tehran’s nuclear program with the administration of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, the sources said.

Raisi, an anti-U.S. ultraconservative cleric, is set to assume his post in early August, following his election victory last month. It is the first time in eight years that a conservative hard-liner has won the presidency, fueling concern about a flare-up of tensions between Iran and the United States.

Iran’s current foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, under the outgoing government of moderate Hassan Rouhani, is also likely to be replaced by a conservative hard-liner, according to the sources.

Motegi’s visit to Iran is expected to be part of a 10-day trip to the Middle East, which will likely also take him to Egypt and Turkey in a bid to help stabilize tensions in the region, the sources said.

It would be the first visit to Iran by a senior Japanese government figure since June 2019 trips by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

Motegi is also considering visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories as Japan looks to build a relationship with the Israeli government under new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and offer assistance to reconstruct Gaza following bombing by Israel in May, according to the sources.

In Turkey, Motegi is planning to meet with his counterpart to discuss the COVID-19 response and stability in the Middle East. He is also likely to visit Jordan, Iraq and Qatar.

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