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As the EU finalises sanctions against Iran, Japan has become the latest country to impose measures against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme. After talks with US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner the Japanese finance minister said Tokyo would begin reducing its imports of Iranian oil.

Jun Azumi said: “Nuclear development is something that the world can’t shut its eyes to, and we understand the United States’ position.” He added Japan would gradually diminish the amount of crude it buys from Iran.”

It is a boost for the White House after China, a major consumer of Iranian oil, rebuffed similar US calls to reduce trade with Tehran. Geithner said Washington will keep the pressure on Iran.

“We are in the early stages, just the initial stages, of consulting with our allies, both in Europe and in Japan, and around the world, on how best to achieve those objectives. But we’re working very closely together,” he said.

With more sanctions looming, Iran has stepped up its diplomatic efforts to convince the world that its nuclear programme is not a threat. A delegation has just met with Turkish officials in Ankara to discuss the issue.

Further afield President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been visiting allies in Latin America. His tour of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador is aimed at countering the effects of any punitive economic and political measures from the West.

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