Abe urges Rouhani to avoid escalation of Iran-U.S. tensions

Kyodo -- Jun 13
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday to avoid a further escalation of tensions and an unintended military conflict in the Middle East, as he sought to nudge Tehran toward dialogue as a mediator with the United States.

Speaking after talks with Rouhani at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Abe offered to do whatever Japan can to reduce friction between Iran and the United States. But he added Iran also needs to play a "constructive role" in bringing peace and stability in the region.

"We must avoid an armed clash at any cost. Peace and stability in the Middle East are essential for the prosperity of the region and the world," Abe said alongside Rouhani.

Abe made the comments after he became the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit Iran since Takeo Fukuda in 1978. Tensions have flared in recent weeks over Iran's nuclear program and Washington's attempt to boost its military presence.

"We won't pursue war with the United States," Rouhani said, while adding that Iran will act resolutely if the situation develops into war.

"We've seen heightened tensions in this region and the U.S. economic war is to blame. So if the economic war ends, we believe stability can be ensured," Rouhani said.

Rouhani welcomed Abe's visit to diffuse tensions, and expressed appreciation and hope for Japan's continued support for an international nuclear deal from which the United States has already withdrawn.

- Kyodo