Abe, Rouhani discuss Middle East peace, stability

TOKYO, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday, pledging Japan’s contribution to easing tensions and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East, public broadcaster NHK reported.

At the start of their summit in Tokyo, Abe told Rouhani that he is deeply concerned about rising tensions in the Middle East and he pledged to help de-escalate them, according to the report. Abe also urged Iran to fully comply with the nuclear deal the country signed with world powers, and play a constructive role in regional peace and stability, it said.

For his part, Rouhani said peace and stability in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf region are crucial for Iran. He also said the 2015 nuclear agreement is very important, but condemned what he calls the unilateral and irrational withdrawal of the US. The president also expressed hope that Japan and other countries will make efforts to keep the agreement alive.

Abe also explained Japan’s plan to send its Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to boost information-gathering capabilities to ensure the safety of ships with ties to Japan, the report said. The Japanese government places great importance on ensuring the safety of ships navigating in the region as the country relies on the area for more than 80 percent of its crude oil imports.

Rouhani arrived in Tokyo earlier in the day for the two-day visit. The first visit by an Iranian president in 19 years comes as Iran’s economy is struggling after the US unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May last year and reimposed sanctions.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that Iran’s economy will shrink by 9.5 percent this year. Iran has surpassed limits on uranium enrichment agreed to in the nuclear deal as a countermeasure to the US sanctions.

Source: Kuwait News Agency