Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a two-day trip to Iran sought to mediate a de-escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran and offer to broker dialogue between the two countries, but his bid was rejected by Iran, officials here said on Friday.
This was partly due to Japan having friendly ties with both Washington and Tehran, with this year marking the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and Iran.
Nevertheless, his efforts to broker dialogue between Washington and Tehran were rejected by the latter, Xinhua news agency reported citing informed sources, with Abe stating that the standoff in the region remains difficult.
The Japanese leader said, however, after his talks in Iran, that Tokyo remained committed to working towards the achievement of peace and stability in the region and the de-escalation of tensions between the US and Iran, the Foreign Ministry here said.
During his trip, Abe also asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to release US citizens being held in the country, Kyodo News Agency quoted a Japanese government source as saying.
The request made by Abe, was reportedly on behalf of US President Donald Trump, who was seeking to have at least four American nationals currently detained in Iran repatriated to Washington.
One of the Americans detained in Iran is a Navy veteran, who has been sentenced to 10 year's imprisonment.
The Japanese government source here, according to media reports, said it is not yet known how Rouhani and Khamenei responded to Abe's request.
Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who also visited Iran with Abe, meanwhile, spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the phone on Friday, with the pair agreeing they would closely cooperate on the situation in the Middle East.
Following Trump pulling the US out of the nuclear accord and restoring sanctions on Iran, Tehran said it planned to keep more enriched uranium, prompting Washington to send a carrier strike force, B-52 bombers and armed troops to the Gulf, as tensions mounted.
Hence, Japan also has a vested interest in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz remaining open for the passage of tankers without the threat of attack for economic reasons as well.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)