TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has given up on a plan to visit Iran this summer, Kyodo News said on Wednesday, as U.S. President Donald Trump has taken an increasingly tough line against Tehran.
The visit to Iran would have been the first by a Japanese leader in 40 years, forming part of Abe’s scheduled tour through the Middle East from July 11, Kyodo said.
But Japan has told Iran Abe would not be able to visit its capital, Tehran, despite arrangements it had been making for talks with President Hassan Rouhani, the agency added, citing government sources.
However, Motosada Matano, a spokesman for the Japanese prime minister’s office, told Reuters nothing had been decided about Abe’s overseas travel plans.
The decision not to visit Iran was made in light of Trump’s push to isolate Tehran and choke off its oil exports, after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear pact in May.
The United States has urged Japan and its other allies to stop buying Iranian crude oil entirely by Nov. 4.
Japan, which has traditionally had stable ties with Iran, on which it relied for decades as a key source of oil, has told the Trump administration it cannot further cut or halt crude imports from the country, for fear of risks to its economy, Kyodo added.
(Reporting by Stanley White and Linda Sieg; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)