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Iran’s Rouhani Expected in Japan to Discuss Standoff with US
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran’s Rouhani Expected in Japan to Discuss Standoff with US

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is “finalizing” the details of a trip to Japan, which is expected to take place sometime in the next week. An Iranian government spokesman said the trip would focus on “expanding [bilateral] economic relations.” However, there is speculation of a potential breakthrough between Tehran and Washington given Tokyo’s role as an intermediary between the two rivals. Analysts have also noted that Japan, which recently stopped importing Iranian oil, is unlikely to risk drawing the ire of Trump Administration by expanding trade ties with the Islamic Republic. Notably, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traveled to Tehran in June, just weeks after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. According to Japanese media, US officials encouraged Abe to invite Rouhani and asked for a detailed account of the prospective talks. Tensions between Iran and the US have been on the rise since President Trump in May 2018 withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal. Subsequently, Washington has accused Tehran of using its proxies to target US interests in the Gulf, including American troops in Iraq. The two countries nearly came to blows after Iran shot down a US drone in June, but President Trump reportedly halted retaliatory strikes just minutes before they were meant to be conducted. Rouhani’s trip would be the first by an Iranian president to Japan since 2000.

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