Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering a visit to Iran, apparently to ease tensions between the country and the United States. Such a visit would be the first by a Japanese prime minister since 1978.
Informed sources say Abe is thinking of making the visit in mid-June at the earliest, to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Abe is expected to make a final decision after meeting US President Donald Trump in Tokyo on Monday.
Abe has valued Japan's traditional friendly ties with Iran. He has met Rouhani every year since 2013 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Last week, he held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who made a surprise visit to Japan.
They confirmed that the two countries will maintain and develop their ties. Abe also expressed hope that Iran will continue to adhere to its nuclear deal with major powers.
The Trump administration pulled out of the deal last year and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. Iran has countered by announcing a partial suspension of its obligations.
Tension has mounted since the United States sent an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, citing what it called an imminent threat from Iran. Washington is also considering sending more troops to the region.