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Shinzo Abe to meet Hassan Rouhani in New York

YOKOHAMA: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York next month as

August 28, 2019

YOKOHAMA: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York next month as Tokyo continues to seek a leading role in attempts to defuse rising tension in the Middle East.

Japan's foreign ministry said Wednesday the meeting was arranged during Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's visit to Tokyo on Tuesday, and would take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Japan has long been a major importer of Iranian oil and was one of eight countries given a waiver by Washington on buying directly from Tehran.

Sanctions were imposed after the US President Donald Trump abandoned the Iranian nuclear agreement struck by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Other signatories -- including major European nations -- disagreed with Trump's action.

"I have received clear words from Supreme Leader Khamenei that he does not wish to build, possess and to use nuclear weapons," Abe told Zarif during Tuesday's meeting

"Japan wishes to continue diplomatic efforts toward stabilising the situation," Abe said.

Abe travelled to Iran in June and met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as Rouhani in a bid to ease tension between Tehran and Washington.

Zarif made an unannounced appearance at the G7 in France, with the global elite group hoping the surprise visit would help ease friction between Iran and the US.

US President Donald Trump did not meet Zarif, but said he would be willing to hold talks with Rouhani in the near future.

Rouhani said a meeting could only take place if the US first scrapped the sanctions.