Abe Holds Talks With Ayatollah Khamenei

Abe holds talks with Ayatollah Khamenei

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to help defuse regional tensions caused by the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Abe and Khamenei held talks in Tehran for about an hour on Thursday morning. On the previous night, Abe met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Abe is believed to have explained to Khamenei what US President Donald Trump meant when he said in May that he was not seeking "regime change" in Iran.

Abe is thought to have urged Khamenei to take constructive steps toward easing the regional tensions, including starting dialogue with the United States.

Abe is believed to have stressed that it is essential for Iran, a regional power, to play an active role in building peace and stability in the Middle East.

Abe is thought to have urged Khamenei to take constructive steps, specifically on the situations in Syria and Yemen, in the interest of de-escalating tensions in the region.

Abe is also believed to have reiterated that Japan supports the 2015 nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers, and expressed hope that Iran will continue to abide by the deal.

It remains to be seen to what extent Abe's meeting with Khamenei will help bring about change in Iran's stance toward the US. Iran has been reacting sharply to the US decision to step up its economic sanctions on the country.

Abe arrived in Iran on Wednesday, becoming the first Japanese prime minister to visit the country in 41 years.

He is the first Japanese prime minister to meet Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran's supreme leader hardly ever travels overseas.

Abe is also the first head of a Group of 7 country to meet Khamenei since Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear agreement.