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Japan becomes latest state to play mediator between US and Iran

  • 12 Jun 2019

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Iran in first visit by a Japanese leader to the country since the 1979 revolution.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greets Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 22, 2014. ( Reuters )

Japan is the latest addition to a growing list of countries trying to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting Iran on Wednesday.

Abe, the first Japanese leader to visit Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, is expected to play a mediator role between the US and Iran amid heightened tensions between the two.

“Japan can help in easing the ongoing tension between Iran and America... As a goodwill gesture, America should either lift the unjust oil sanctions or extend the waivers or suspend them,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

“Mr. Abe can be a great mediator to facilitate that (easing of oil sanctions)...Japan has always respected Iran and Mr. Abe can play a very constructive role to calm the ongoing tension that can harm the (Middle East) region,” said another Iranian official, who asked not to be named.

It’s not just Japan trying to secure a spot as mediator, here are some of the other countries trying to calm tensions.

Qatar

Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who has cordial relations with both Iran and the US, had warned both sides to avoid conflict. 

“We believe that at one point there should an engagement – it cannot last forever like this,” he told reporters in London on Sunday. “Since they are not willing to engage in further escalation, they should come up with ideas that open the doors.”

“All these countries are concerned what escalation could lead to,” he said. “There were attempts by Qatar and by other countries in the region to de-escalate the situation: we have been speaking to the US and we have been talking to the Iranians as well. 

“What we are trying to do is really to bridge the gap and create a conversation between the two parties as escalation is not going to benefit anyone in the region,” he added.

Iraq

Iraq has also offered to mediate the crisis between its two key allies amid escalating tension in the Gulf. 

Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed al-Hakim, offered to be a mediator at a joint conference with visiting Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on May 26.

“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.

Oman

“We seek with other parties to calm the tension between Washington and Tehran,” said Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the Sultanate’s foreign minister, warning that “the risk of a war that could harm the whole world.”

Both parties "know the risk of sliding more than this limit" he added.

Oman enjoys close ties with both countries.

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