- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2019

Fresh off of hosting President Trump in Tokyo late last month, Japanese Prime Minister ShinzoAbe is planning a three-day trip to U.S. arch-foe Iran next week, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported Monday.

Mr. Abe is expected to visit Tehran for talks with Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei June 12-14, several Japanese and Iranian press outlets are reporting. It would be the first trip by a Japanese prime minister to Iran in more than four decades.

Japan, which has long cultural and economic ties to Iran, has found itself caught in the middle as the Trump administration ramps up a pressure campaign against countries trading with the Iranian regime, including financial sanctions on oil and metals exports.

Long a major customer for Iranian oil, Japan has essentially cut off all purchasers earlier this year as a U.S. waiver to avoid sanctions expired.

The visit comes amid mounting military tension in the region, leading many to fear an imminent clash between the U.S. and Iran. Japanese officials say Mr. Abe hopes to serve as an intermediary between the two capitals to lower tensions.

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