Speak to the hand Trump: Khamenei snubs Japanese PM's bid US dialogue

Speak to the hand Trump: Khamenei snubs Japanese PM's bid US dialogue
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayotallah Ali Khamenei told Japan's premier that he doesn't believe Trump is worthy of exchanging messages with, as Shinzo Abe seeks dialogue.
2 min read
13 June, 2019
Ayotallah Ali Khamenei is not willing to engage with Trump [Getty]
Iran's supreme leader told Japan's prime minister on Thursday that he does not consider US President Donald Trump "worthy" of exchanging messages with, as Tokyo seeks to calm tensions between the two countries.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for a rare diplomatic mission, hoping to defuse tensions between the Islamic Republic and Tokyo's ally Washington.

He met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayotallah Ali Khamenei but Tehran appeared unwilling to engage with Trump, squashing his initial optimism about a possible detente between the rival countries.

"I don't consider Trump as a person worthy of exchanging messages with. I have no response for him and will not answer him," Khamenei told Abe, in footage of their meeting aired by state television in a rarity for such high-level talks.

His visit makes him the first Japanese leader to visit Iran in 40 years.

Tehran is locked in a bitter standoff with Washington after President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May last year.

Washington has since reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions, which have forced Japan to halt its once substantial purchases of Iranian oil, and launched a military buildup in the Gulf.

"Amid concerns over growing tension in the Middle East and with the attention of the international community on the issue, Japan wishes to do its best towards peace and stability in the region," Abe told reporters before leaving for Tehran.

"Based on traditional friendly ties between Japan and Iran, I would like to have candid exchanges of opinions with President Rouhani and supreme leader Khamenei towards easing tensions," he said.

Agencies contributed to this report.