Source: The Guardian
President acknowledges Abe’s close links to Tehran and says US ‘would like to talk’
By Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Donald Trump has said he would support Shinzo Abe’s efforts to act as a mediator between the US and Iran, as reports suggested the Japanese prime minister would visit Tehran next month for talks with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.
Speaking at a press conference on the penultimate day of his state visit to Japan, Trump also gave his backing to Abe’s attempts to set up a first summit, without preconditions, with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, hours after the regime described the US president’s national security adviser, John Bolton, as a warmonger.
Tehran says it has no interest in talking to the US administration, which has imposed tough sanctions on the country over its nuclear programme and last week sent 1,500 troops to the region.
“I know that the prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran so we’ll see what happens,” Trump, who has offered Tehran direct talks, told reporters before a working lunch with Abe.
Trump, who became the first world leader to meet Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, on Monday, added: “The prime minister has already spoken to me about that and I do believe that Iran would like to talk. And if they would like to talk, we would like to talk also. We’ll see what happens … nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”
Trump later said Washington was not interested in regime change in Iran. “I’m looking to Iran to say no nuclear weapons,” he said. “I think we’ll make a deal. Iran has tremendous economic potential … We’re not looking for regime change, we’re looking for no nuclear weapons. I’m not looking to hurt Iran at all.”
Abe said Japan “would like to do whatever it can. Japan and the US should collaborate closely so that tensions surrounding Iran are lessened and do not result in armed conflict”.
Trump’s conciliatory tone extended to North Korea, despite the deadlock in denuclearisation talks and Pyongyang’s recent testing of short-range missiles.