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Reports indicate that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is heading to Southwest Asia next week to mediate tensions between the United States and Iran. The trip comes as the U.S. has increased pressure in seeking to restrict Iran’s oil trade, designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and attributing attacks on two commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf to Iran.

The White House issued strong messaging with commitment of increased troop deployment to the region while Iran has countered that it would not cower to U.S. pressure. In response to rising tensions, Abe offered his services to U.S. President Donald Trump to help temper the situation, which both Trump and Iran’s Foreign Minister Abbas Mousavi welcomed in public remarks. Mediation could be helpful in de-escalating tensions between the two countries, though some observers may ask why Japan?

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