Japan and Iran discuss possibility of Hassan Rouhani visiting

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Tokyo is in discussions about a visit to Japan by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this month, an attempt to try to resolve Iran's nuclear impasse with the United States.
He also said Japan wants to make every possible effort to promote Middle East peace.
Japan maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran, and has tried to ease tension between the countries, which broke off diplomatic relations after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
Citing a senior diplomatic source, Kyodo news agency reported last week that Iran had proposed the visit and that the proposal was relayed during a two-day visit to Japan by Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs Abbas Araqchi.
Abe said Japan would make every effort to promote peace in the Middle East but did not specify when there might be a decision on sending Japanese seamen to the region to guard ships supplying Japan.
"As one of those efforts, we are currently in talks about a visit by President Rouhani to Japan," he added.
Abe did not give details but local media reported the visit could take place on Dec. 20 or 21.
The Nikkei business daily said last week the government would propose deploying one escort ship and a patrol aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force on a one-year mission that could be renewed annually. It plans to finalize the plan by year-end, the Nikkei said.
Abe visited Iran in July and met with Rouhani and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during which Khamenei reiterated Iran's stance that it has no intention of making or using nuclear weapons.