Japan FM to visit Iran next month

Oct. 29, 2013 at 2:01 AM
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TOKYO, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will make a two-day visit to Iran next month to discuss that country's nuclear program, the government said Tuesday.

During the visit Nov. 9-10, Kishida will meet with Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

The visit comes at a time when Rouhani has shown willingness to negotiate his country's disputed nuclear program.

Kishida told reporters that Japan has pressured Iran over its nuclear program since Rouhani became president in August and said he hoped to exchange views on the issue during his visit, while keeping in mind Iran's strategic and geopolitical importance, Kyodo News reported. He also referred to Iran talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus German as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Earlier, Iran's Press TV said Kishida's visit comes on the back of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's meeting with President Rouhani Sept. 26 in New York during the U.N. General Assembly session. The report said the Abe and Rouhani had explored avenues for advancement of relations between their countries in diverse areas.

Japan and Iran have maintained friendly diplomatic relations and Tehran is hoping its oil exports to Japan would increase. Prior to the imposition of U.S.-led economic sanctions on Iran last year, Japan had been a major importer of Iranian oil, but since then its imports have dropped substantially.

After his visit to Iran, Kishida will travel to India to attend a gathering of foreign ministers of the Asia-Europe Meeting, or ASEM, where he hopes to discuss economic and regional affairs, as well as explain Japan's security policy. ASEM is made up of 27 EU members, 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, Australia, China, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland -- as well as the European Commission and the ASEAN secretariat.

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