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Japan says Abe's Iran trip not meant to mediate row with US

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shake hands after their joint press conference at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. The Japanese leader is in Tehran on an mission to calm tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

EBRAHIM NOROOZI/AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 13, 2019

TOKYO — Japan's top government spokesman says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's high-stakes trip to Iran is intended to help de-escalate tensions in the Mideast — and not specifically mediate between Tehran and Washington.

The remarks by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to reporters were apparently meant to downplay and lower expectations amid uncertain prospects for Abe's mission.

Abe was to meet with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday, the second and final day of his visit.

On Wednesday, after talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Abe warned any "accidental conflict" that could be sparked amid the heightened U.S.-Iran tensions must be avoided.

Tensions have escalated in the Mideast and Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Washington pulled out of the agreement last year.

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