Japan, Iran leaders to meet in September in New York

Japan, Iran leaders to meet in September in New York
Japan is also set to meet foreign ministers of the GCC in September in an effort to secure a free trade agreement between Japan and the GCC.
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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi last September at the UN [Getty]

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will meet in New York in September to discuss Iran's nuclear programme among other issues, Kyodo news agency said on Sunday, quoting unnamed Iranian diplomatic sources.

Iran aims to promote relations with Japan, traditionally a friendly nation, to avoid international isolation as Iran's talks with the United States and Europe over their nuclear deal have stalled, Kyodo said.

No comment was immediately available from Japan's foreign ministry.

Kishida and Raisi also met last September when they visited New York for the UN General Assembly.

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Indirect talks between Washington and Tehran to revive the nuclear agreement have been stalled since last September, although the two are trying to ease tensions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that he would welcome any Iranian steps to de-escalate its "growing nuclear threat."

Kishida and Raisi are also expected to discuss Iran's alleged provision of armed drones to Russia, which has invaded Ukraine, according to the Kyodo report.

Raisi will ask Kishida to visit Iran and seek to unfreeze Iranian assets in Japan, estimated to be worth around $3 billion, that were frozen in line with US sanctions, Kyodo said.

Earlier this month, sources told Reuters that Iran may free five detained US citizens as part of a deal to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds in South Korea.

The Japanese side is also expected to emphasise safety in the Strait of Hormuz, the main artery for crude oil transportation and the route for most of the crude oil coming to Japan, Kyodo said. 

Japan relies heavily on imports of oil and liquefied natural gas, relying on the Middle East for 90 percent of its crude oil.

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As well as meetings with Iranian officials, Japan is also preparing to meet foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Saudi Arabia in September, according to Kyodo news agency.

The talks could also see Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who will attend the meeting, visit Egypt and Jordan.

A free trade agreement and technical cooperation on next-generation energy sources, as well as talks on Iran's nuclear programme, are speculated to be on the agenda.

Kishida had visited the region in July, where he announced the resumption of talks on a free trade agreement between Japan and the GCC.

(Reuters & The New Arab staff)