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President Rouhani in Tokyo, urges Japan to help rein in US

President Hassan Rouhani has paid a landmark visit to Japan, calling on the country to help confront the United States’ bid to wreck the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

According to Press TV, Rouhani became the first Iranian president to visit Japan since 2000 when he landed in Tokyo Friday, his overnight stay seen as the international outreach to the important West Asian country despite US efforts to isolate it.

The President inspected a guard of honor along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the latter’s central Tokyo office before summit talks and a dinner scheduled to last into Friday evening.

Despite being a military ally of the US, Japan has traditionally maintained friendly relations with Iran as a major source of energy. In 2017, Iran supplied 5.2 percent of Japan’s crude oil imports.

Iran’s oil exports, however, have been disrupted by unilateral American sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Japan also relies on the West Asia for nearly 90% of its oil needs, but tensions have risen to new highs amid US deployment of new troops and military assets to the Persian Gulf.

“The nuclear deal is an extremely important agreement, and we strongly condemn the US withdrawal, which was one-sided and irrational,” Rouhani said in the meeting with Abe on Friday.

“We hope that Japan and other countries in the world will make efforts toward maintaining the agreement,” the Iranian president added.

President Rouhani has said that purpose of his visit to Japan is to discuss the security of West Asia and calming tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Abe plans to dispatch a Self-Defense Force destroyer and patrol plane to West Asia. He is expected to explain the dispatch plan to Rouhani to seek a green light from Iran for the operation, Japan Times said.

“Japan would like to do its utmost to ease tensions and stabilize the situation in West Asia,” Abe told Rouhani Friday.

The Japanese prime minister, instead, wants Iran to remain committed to the JCPOA despite the US withdrawal.

“I strongly expect that Iran will fully comply with the nuclear agreement and play a constructive role for peace and stability in the region,” Abe said.

Abe visited Iran in June, but as he sat for talks with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei two tankers — one of them operated by a Japanese firm — came under attack in the Gulf of Oman, in what many observers saw an attempt to scuttle the effort.

Nevertheless, Tehran is interested in preserving its friendly relations with Tokyo and wants the Asian powerhouse to keep them independent from American pressure.

On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Japanese reporters that Iran now hopes “the strong bilateral relationship” between Japan and Iran “will be able to overcome pressure” from the United States.