MNA – Japan told Iran that it is considering sending the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to the Middle East to improve information-gathering capabilities and ensure the safety of commercial shipping operations, the top Japanese government spokesman said Wednesday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained the plan under consideration to Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, during their meeting Tuesday at the Japanese leader’s office, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, according to Japan’s Mainichi.
“We explained that we are considering the use of the SDF in enhancing our information gathering (in the Middle East),” Suga said at a press conference. “As always, we have been in close coordination with Iran.”
Abe also told Araghchi that Iran, in its position on the Persian Gulf, needs to fulfill its obligation to ensure the safe navigation of ships, according to the top government spokesman.
The Sea of Oman, which lies on the northern edge of the Arabian Sea, or the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, have been picked as potential locations for the SDF, according to Suga.
The government is expected to seek Cabinet approval by the end of the year to send an SDF destroyer and patrol plane to oversee shipping activities, government sources have said.
In Wednesday’s press conference, Suga declined to comment on how Araghchi responded to Abe’s decision.
Asked whether the Iranian official reacted negatively, Suga said, “I’ve been told that the kind of exchange you pointed out did not take place.”
Japan’s announcement comes as Iran has maintained that the security in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf will only be achieved through collective cooperation between regional countries.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at UN General Assembly proposed the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) initiative which seeks to establish security in the region through the cooperation of all Persian Gulf countries.
The Iran-proposed plan comes as the United States is trying to persuade its allies into joining a maritime coalition to allegedly secure free shipping in the Persian Gulf region.
Tehran has condemned the move, highlighting that the presence of foreign forces in the region will do nothing but sow more insecurity.