Kyodo — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to have talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later this month in New York following the reinstatement of sanctions against the Middle Eastern country by the United States, a Japanese government source said Sunday.
Japan hopes to maintain ties with Iran, on which it depends for crude oil imports. The leaders are planning to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. Security Council general assembly later this month for the sixth straight year, it said.
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 international nuclear deal between Tehran and other major powers, and reinstated some of its sanctions against Iran.
Washington has been calling for a halt to oil imports from Iran by Nov. 4 and intends to impose sanctions on countries that continue to buy oil from the country.
Japan has been asking for a waiver during negotiations with its major ally but has faced difficulties in securing an exemption.
Abe intends to seek Rouhani’s understanding that Japanese oil distributors are set to halt oil imports from Iran following the U.S. request, the source said. Iran is the sixth-largest exporter of crude oil to Japan, at around 5 percent of Japan’s imports.
Abe is also set to urge Rouhani to uphold the implementation of the nuclear deal despite the U.S. withdrawal, the source said. Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Abe and Rouhani are also likely to discuss Japan’s economic cooperation with Iran, it said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is mulling visiting Iran around mid-October if he retains the ministerial post in a Cabinet reshuffle Abe would hold in early October, the source said.
Abe plans to carry out the reshuffle if re-elected as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and prime minister following the LDP leadership race on Thursday, other sources said earlier.