Trump willing to Iran talks, hints at Japan mediation

Visiting US President Donald Trump said here on Monday that he was willing to talk to Iran to ease the ongoing tensions between the two nations, while highlighting the mediation role Japan could play in the process.

“I know the Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran,” Trump told the media before his meeting with Abe at the Akasaka Palace, where visiting heads of states and dignitaries stay.

“I do believe Iran would like to talk and if they want to talk we’d like to talk,” added Trump, who arrived on a four-day state visit to Japan on Saturday.

Japanese media have pointed to the possibility of Abe travelling to Tehran in June in an attempt to broker talks between Iran and the US, whose governments have traded hostile remarks recently.

Frictions between Washington and Tehran escalated further after Iran decided to reduce its commitments to the nuclear pact reached with China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany in 2015 and from which the Trump’s administration withdrew last year.

“I know for a fact the Prime Minister (Abe) is very close with the leadership of Iran, and we’ll see what happens. Nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me,” Trump said.

The possibility of Japanese mediation between the US and Iran arose after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to Tokyo in mid May.

Trump also referred to his diplomatic thaw with the Pyongyang regime, which suffered a setback after talks collapsed at the end of February following the failure of the summit he had with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi.

“I personally think that lots of good things will come with North Korea. I feel that. I may be right, I may be wrong but I feel that,” Trump said.

“No rocket testing, no nuclear testing… We’ve come a long way with North Korea. We’ll see what happens. There’s a good respect built, maybe a great respect built between the US and North Korea,” said the American leader despite the short-range missile tests carried out by Pyongyang earlier this month.

“Let’s see if something constructive can be done… if you look back at the last two years, it’s been a big difference,” he said.