Dec 04, 2019 17:43 UTC
  •  Iran opposes Japan plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces to region: Deputy FM

A senior Iranian official says the Islamic Republic is opposed to Japan's plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to West Asia to help ensure what Tokyo describes as the safe navigation of commercial vessels.

“We are waiting for Japan to take its final decision. We don’t believe that the presence of any foreign forces in the region would help the stability, security and peace of this region,” said Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, in an exclusive interview with Japan's public broadcaster NHK on Wednesday, during his visit to Tokyo.

Elsewhere in his interview, Araqchi blamed the US for escalating tensions in the region, adding that Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers and its “maximum pressure” policy were fueling regional tensions.

He said that Iran will take further steps to scale back its commitments under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if it could not reap the benefits of the agreement.   

“If Iran cannot benefit from the JCPOA, there is every possibility for any measure to be taken by Iran. It depends on the situation,” he said.

President Rouhani to visit Japan later in Dec.

Meanwhile, an Iranian government official said that President Hassan Rouhani is considering stopping by Japan during his trip to Malaysia for an international conference sometime in mid-December.

Mahmoud Vaezi, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian president, told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet session on Wednesday that President Rouhani will first visit Malaysia and will then depart for Japan.  

He said the visit comes in response to an invitation by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the latter’s visit to Tehran in June,  adding that the visit will most likely take place later this month.

Back in June, Abe visited Iran on a first by a Japanese premier to Tehran in more than 40 years, with a plan to help ease tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States.

Abe said in his meeting with Iranian officials that Japan seeks to play a maximum role to prevent tensions, stressing “this has been the focus of my trip to Iran.”

Iran says it has not shut the door on talks but reaffirmed its position that there will be no negotiations unless the US returns to the nuclear deal and lifts all sanctions on Iran.