Tokyo, Sept. 17 (Jiji Press) — Uncertainty is mounting over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hope to serve as a mediator between the United States and Iran, in the wake of an attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Concerns over a possible armed conflict between the United States and Iran are increasing, with Washington suspecting Iran’s involvement in the attack.
At a meeting of executives of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday, Abe said he will meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his visit to New York from Monday for participation in the U.N. General Assembly session. “I want to hold talks with President Rouhani on easing tensions in the Middle East,” Abe said.
Stability in the Middle East is indispensable for Japan, which relies on countries in the region for most of its energy imports.
Abe, who visited Iran in June and held meetings with Rouhani and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is hoping to be actively involved in Middle East issues. Abe is slated to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump during the upcoming New York visit.
Taking advantage of Japan’s amicable diplomatic ties with both the United States and Iran, Abe is hoping to help realize the first U.S.-Iran summit.
Trump recently revealed his eagerness to meet with Rouhani. But the momentum for dialogue between the U.S. and Iranian leaders is now being lost, with Washington blaming Tehran for the attacks in Saudi Arabia and indicating its readiness for a retaliatory attack.
After Yemeni Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, claimed their responsibility for the attack in Saudi Arabia, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Sunday released a statement strongly condemning “the terrorist attacks.”
With the Japanese government planning to carefully respond to the matter while closely monitoring the situation, however, Motegi said at a press conference Tuesday Japan has not concluded that the Houthi rebels were responsible for the attacks.
Asked about the view that Iran was behind the attacks, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a separate press conference Tuesday stopped short of speculating about the culprit, saying only, “We’re collecting and analyzing information while cooperating with the United States and other countries concerned.”